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20111202_KopsforKids_CAB_0083MISSION — Operation Kops for Kids, in its 17th year, has started accepting donations of toys for children, newborn to 12 years of age, said Assistant Police Chief Martin Garza.

Nearly 1,500 toys were given out during last year’s distribution, Garza said.

“We’re hoping to increase that every year,” he said.

Residents are encouraged to donate new toys or monetary donations to Mission Crime Stoppers at the Mission Police Department, 1200 E. 8th St., until Dec. 20. All money received will go toward purchasing more gifts for children in the Mission area including Peñitas, Sullivan City, Alton and Granjeno.

Operation Kops for Kids is an opportunity for businesses, the community, Mission Crime Stoppers and the police department to come together by having fundraisers and gathering donations to help needy children in the area, said Garza.

“It’s been growing every year,” Garza said. “Not only from the type of toys we’ve been given, but from the amount of people we go out and reach.”

Garza recalled when Operation Kops for Kids first started and gifts were given to kids in plastic bags and the amount of toys given depended solely on donations.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Garza.

Operation Kops for Kids will be held Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. in front of the police station. The event will feature Santa Claus passing out the gifts to children. Participants can also expect a train ride, face painting, entertainment, refreshments, visit with McGruff and other goodies.

There will also be a bowling tournament this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to raise money for Operation Kops for Kids. The tournament will feature at least 20 teams competing against each other at Valley Bowl. About $5,000 has already been raised with this fundraiser. The money will go directly toward purchasing toys and bikes for the families that sign up for Operation Kops for Kids.

“It’s going to make a big difference as to the type of toys and the amount of toys that we are going to be able to serve this year,” said Garza.

Garza said it’s nice to see fundraisers that are family oriented.

“Christmas is about being with your family and the gift of sharing and by participating in this brings joy to us,” said Garza. “We’re going to be increasing the amount of people we are going to be serving.”

Families in need of a joyous holiday, or residents that know families in need, are encouraged to register for Operation Kops for Kids at MPD or call Amy Tijerina at 956-584-5144. Registrants will be asked to provide their name and address, along with ages and genders of their children. Donations can be left at the police department or call Romeo Ortega at 946-458-9046 for more information.

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