ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – The Escanaba Public Safety Department, along with Santa and the bad ole Grinch were out delivering toys and presents to families around Escanaba Thursday. It’s an annual event that puts everyone in the holiday spirit, except of course the Grinch who was apprehended, trying to steal Christmas… again. Lt. John Gudwer says it’s a high point of his year.

“Delivering these, these bags with Santa and the Grinch,” said Gudwer. “We love doing it. The kids love it. The families love it and I think the community really loves it too. We get nothing but positive feedback.”

It all begins with Shop with a Cop where EDPS officers take deserving boys and girls shopping for themselves and for their families. Once assembled at the police station, they meet with all officers.

“And then we transport all the kids,” said Gudwer. “We put them in a fire truck and police cars and our detective vehicles, and we try to drive them over to Walmart. “

Lt. Gudwer recalls a boy who was very selfless, wanting only presents for his family.

“He had money left,” said Gudwer. “I said we got money left and what do you want for yourself and he’s like, he really didn’t want to get more for himself, and he had four siblings that he got gifts for and his parents.” 

The present giving brigade is made up of mostly volunteers, as well as some on-duty officers and fire department personnel. Lt. Gudwer is grateful for all the donations, and for the chance to connect with the community.

“Just the goodness in people, all the money that’s donated for the program,” Lt. Gudwer said. “And what a bridge it is to build relationships with these kids.”

For Amber Seville, Santa’s visit, though a few days early, was a welcome sight indeed. She wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.

“Thank you very much,” said Seville. “Yeah, this is just such a blessing. I’m overwhelmed with joy and Merry Christmas.”