Town steps up to make sure the holidays stay magical

Mike Moore photo
Courtney Eason, 3, grabs her presents from Glenrock Police Department Officer Colter Felton on Christmas morning. The GPD delivered presents to 10 houses, giving each child between four and five presents.

By Ethan Brogan

The chilly air swept freshly powdered snow across the icy roads around Glenrock Christmas morning. The sunrise would be the signal for all children to rise out of their beds and run toward the tree, checking for presents from Santa. Some of those children didn’t see any gifts under the tree, but instead were awoken by a knock at the door with the Glenrock Police Department holding piles of presents just for them.
Every year, businesses and residents pledge to fill the stockings of families found wanting on Christmas. At Hilltop National Bank, children’s names were hung like ornaments on a tree waiting for people to make their Christmas special.
“If police departments get involved in this manner then they become stakeholders, and once you get that, that is community policing,” GPD Chief Tim Hurd said.
At final the count, the GPD visited 10 houses Christmas morning to drop off presents. The GPD got 128 presents from the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation and picked up the rest they needed at Grandma Kay’s Toy Store. They used donations from within the department, as well as from councilman Dennis Flynn, to pay for presents for children 12 and up. The gifts for the older kids included gaming headsets and computer mouses.
“These kids are innocent kids. They are just caught up in downsizing of companies, people being transferred (and) their mom or dad doing something wrong (so) they’re not with them on Christmas,” Hurd said. “That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve Christmas.”
The GPD picked up the remaining families who requested help but weren’t taken by other families or individuals.
As the morning snow bombarded the streets, members of GPD and Memorial Hospital of Converse County hit the road to deliver Christmas cheer around Glenrock.
Video of the GPD distributing presents can be seen on the Independent’s Facebook page.

Manager of Oregon Trails apartments Sharon Kemp also teamed up with the Glenrock Volunteer Fire Department to deliver presents around the town Dec. 22. Kemp helped to organize gifts for 34 families, totaling 76 kids getting between four and five presents each.
“It’s not just the kids,” Kemp said. “It’s the excitement between the fire department and the kids.”
Kemp has been working with this project ever since she needed help in 1975. Back then, Kemp wasn’t able to afford a good Christmas, and a basket of gifts was left on her doorstep. She decided to share the presents with her neighbors and the following year she started putting together a running list of families that needed help.
As the years went by, Kemp saw the list growing and business, such as Hilltop National Bank, joining in to pledge money to make someone else’s Christmas.
“The people in this town are some of the finest people on earth,” Kemp said. “And that’s the truth.”
Organizations like the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Ace Hardware, Masonic Lodge, the Dave Johnston Power Plant and more all come together to adopt families to provide a good Christmas.
“It’s not charity,” Kemp said. “It’s just people who love you.”

A woman hobbled into Grandma Kay’s Toy Store and set her cane against the wall. She had driven for more than an hour looking for help two days before Christmas.
She speaks with Kay for a moment and fills out a form. Then browses Kay’s store and picks out toys that her kids would want. Kay carefully gathers the toys together for her and grabs wrapping paper tape for her to take home.
This scene was played over and over for the 40 families who sought out help from Kay. She sees all the community is doing and loves being a part of this Christmas tradition.
“I’ve had tremendous local support this year,” Kay said, remarking that businesses and residents will donate money to her so she can continue doing her work.
Kay has been helping parents provide a good Christmas for their children for more than 37 years and she still feels grateful for every person she is able to help.
“I’m very blessed to do this,” she said. “My dream was to have a store where the parents could  get to experience buying presents for their family.”
Kay recognizes the community and all they have done to make her dream come true.
“I appreciate all the support the town has given this year,” Kay said.
Kay’s store stayed open until 4 p.m. Christmas Eve for anyone who needed any last-minute gifts for their family.
And every year, Kay loves doing it because she gets “to play Santa.”


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

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