Safer Cities Initiative LAPD Officers Invade Hope Gardens Family Center — with children’s gifts!

A number of blogs ago I mentioned that my Dad, known as Santa to me and the children of URM, was out of commission due to a stroke. He is now recovering at my home. I shared this with Sergeant Kevin Royce of the LAPD’s Central Division and he responded, “We will be Santa this year for the Hope Gardens Family Center children.”

So, on Sunday, December 23rd, 13 LAPD police cars, 1 large van, Kevin, his family, and 50 uniformed officers showed up to surprise our Hope Garden’s families. I wish you could have seen the face of one new boy named Nate, 12, as the cars pulled in and the officers got out of the cars. The officers had received specific requests for a gift from each of our 50 children, gone out and purchased those gifts, and took time to deliver them to each of the children personally!


Nate was brand new to Hope Gardens Family Center and not on the original list given to the LAPD. I imagined Nate probably would have felt left out, but Sergeant (Santa) Kevin handed me a $160 gift certificate to Wal-Mart, where we make it a practice to purchase bicycles for each new child, and said to use it as we wished. I asked Benaiah, one of our youth workers, if he could take Nate to the store that afternoon to select a bike and a gift for Christmas, and he obliged. I let Nate know that these caring officers had just provided him with his first (and only) Christmas gift. The officers thanked URM for our support in their efforts to stop crime on Skid Row and one of our moms eloquently thanked the officers for their work and this wonderful act of kindness.

The officers also marveled at this beautiful new home for our families, far away from the dangers of Skid Row, where the officers put their lives in danger everyday. I think they enjoyed the moment of peace that their visit to Hope Gardens brought. What you won’t see is the fun we had on the playground after the gift exchange. I have a little buddy named Robbie, who is a very stout, 7 year old fellow who likes to get the other children revved up to wear me out on the playground. I usually strategically show up at 5:30 P.M. to tussle with them for 20 minutes, until the dinner bell rings, and I am then saved by the bell. I have been telling the children for a long time that I had friends on the police force and that I had reinforcements coming one of these days. Well, this day was the day and a whole squad joined me on the playground with Robbie. It took 3 very fit and quick officers to finally catch him on the playground tower and Robbie enjoyed every minute of the chase. In fact, Robbie wore the officers out! I didn’t feel so old after all!

We hope this marvelous experience goes a long way in shaping our children’s attitudes towards the police, and we hope it was of some encouragement to these young and hard working officers. Thank you SCI Officers from LAPD’s Central Division!

How would you react, if 13 police cars and a tactical van showed up in your driveway?
Do you encourage or pray for your police officers?

2 thoughts on “Safer Cities Initiative LAPD Officers Invade Hope Gardens Family Center — with children’s gifts!

  1. mtbikerguy on

    Great story Andy. I’m glad that you are able to pull so many resources whether that be people or whatever to be involved in making L.A. a better place to live.

  2. abales2779 on

    Thank you for your encouraging words. We appreciate the support, prayers, and encouragement. I just spent time at Hope Gardens Family Center today, and this first Christmas at Hope Gardens Family Center made a huge positive impact on our precious moms and children. Thanks to all who helped us get there, and thanks to all who showed up to make this first Christmas one that we will never forget! God bless you, Andy B.

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