PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For nearly five decades, the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League has held what it calls Stuff-A-Store. It is an opportunity for local police officers to select toys that they will give to kids and families with a need during the holidays.
But it takes a lot of effort before they can deliver what they call their “Glorious Holiday Happiness.”
Santa’s helpers were in a joyful mood at the Monroeville Mall.
The Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League (WPPAL) works all year to make sure no child is sad at Christmas.
“It’s unbelievable what [founder] Jimmy Cvetic has done over the years for all the kids. It’s one person that I can’t understand how he does it all,” says Allegheny County Police Assistant Superintendent James Morton.
The organization collects literally thousands of presents, then makes them available to local police departments to give away to kids in their home area.
Rankin Police Chief Ryan Wooten is very grateful.
“You have 47 chiefs of police here, the superintendent from Allegheny County, the State Police. These folks are Santa to so many different communities in western and eastern Pennsylvania. It’s a blessing,” he said.
It’s not just coming up with 17,000 presents like they did last year. They also decorate and then donate Christmas trees to give to area police departments.
Gloria Sztukowski is the executive director of the WPPAL. She says without the help of local police departments, the toys would never get to needy children.
“They are going out into their community and distributing gifts to some of the children and some of the individuals who were in a little need of holiday cheer,” she said.
Sztukowski expects they have many more gifts to give away this holiday season.
Chief Ellis Watson, of the Swissvale Police Department, says the credit needs to go to the Police Athletic League and the work they do every year to secure the toys, bikes and decorated Christmas trees.
“Without them and the volunteers here, we wouldn’t be able to do this for our community. So, it’s great involvement. We enjoy getting out in the community with the kids and having a positive influence on the kids,” he said.