By: Mike Rhodes—
Muncie, IN —Dozens of wide-eyed, giggly happy kids and their families received Christmas presents at Price Hall this morning, courtesy of the Muncie Police Department, the Indiana Pacers, and Jakks toy store.
Indiana Pacers Pacemates, (including Muncie’s own Brooke Rees) mascots Freddy Fever and Boomer showed up to visit with the children as well as a personal appearance by Santa Claus.
Bill Benner is senior VP for corporate, community and public relations for Pacers Sports and Entertainment. He explained how the toy program got started. “Jakks is a toy company based in Santa Monica, California. Stephen Berman of Jakks is a good friend of Herb Simon, so starting 8 years ago Jakks started providing toys to the Pacers organization to distribute through police departments around Central Indiana.
“The last two years we’ve expanded our toy program throughout the entire state,” Benner said. ” We’ve been to Ft. Wayne, Muncie, Connersville, Greencastle, Terre Haute, Columbus, Indianapolis and later today, Kokomo.”
The toys are provided to the Muncie Police Department, who decides which local low-income daycare agencies will receive the toys. Today’s event was held in Price Hall on Madison Street— festively decorated with Christmas trees, and colorful, fully-wrapped gifts for the children.
MPD officer, Jami Brown said MPD will be out today and tomorrow to deliver more toys to children in the community. Later today, Santa Clause will be driving around town in a police car to distribute more gifts at random, as well as stopping by residences who have indicated they have a need.
On Wednesday, MPD will be stopping by the Pediatric Unit at IU Health/Ball Memorial Hospital.
Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler and MPD police chief, Joe Winkle welcomed the kids and their families to the event and wished them all a very merry Christmas. One mother of a child said, “It just warms my heart to see this happen. We are so grateful. Thank you so much for brightening our holiday.”
Pictures from today’s event are below.