FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Santa Claus came to town early Wednesday morning, but not in a sleigh. He arrived in an ambulance guided by a police motorcade.
His destination was the Martin Park Shelter in Central Fresno. He came barring gifts for boys and girls. His elves took the day off and first responders answered the call. Fresno Police officers, paramedics with American Ambulance and many more helped deliver more than 200 gifts to children in need.
Their reactions were priceless as they unwrapped them.
It is all part of Heroes and Helpers. For 18 years, the event has made the holidays happy for countless children in Fresno. Retired police officer Karen Kroske came up with the idea.
"This is important to these kids and you saw the faces today on these children when they were ripping open those presents it makes it worth every penny," said Kroske.
It all starts early in the morning at Target in Riverpark, that's where they purchase gifts. $10,000 were spent and all of it was donated. Half of those funds came from Target.
"This time of the year is all about giving back and giving to people in need and making kids happy and feel good and it's an awesome day," said Samantha Cole Assistant Manager.
The event proving to law enforcement it is better to give than to receive.
"it is pretty heartwarming and it is what Christmas is all about," said Lennie Lujan, Sergeant with the Fresno Police Department.
"It can be a rough time of year sometimes for many of them," said David Standley with the Fresno Police Department. "It is really neat to be able to see and experience this with them."
Extra toys were also purchased for any children who didn't sign up. Santa also visited Heaton Elementary School.
First responders help Santa Claus deliver gifts to Fresno children in need