Christmas Miracle: Cops Buy Gifts for Family Whose Presents Were Stolen
When Austin police officers learned that the Ruiz family’s Christmas presents had been stolen for the second year in a row, they decided not to let a local Grinch ruin the holidays and personally purchased and donated gifts to the New Jersey family.
The Florence Township family had parked their car containing most of their Christmas presents in front of a Quick Mart on Broad St. on Saturday.
When the family returned home Saturday night they realized someone had broken in through the window and almost everything inside was gone, including all the Christmas presents.
“When I got there, it was a middle aged woman that was there with her two young kids. And she was showing me what was all missing and basically she had a TV, some other things stolen, including kids’ Christmas gifts that she had hidden in the closet, that she hadn't set out just yet,” Austin Police Officer Jordan Officer said, adding that “this happened last year around the same time.”
This year, Officer and two of his coworkers took it upon themselves to spread a little holiday cheer.
“During this time when most families are preparing to celebrate Christmas, this family not only had to figure out how they were going to get from place to place without a vehicle, they also had to figure out how they were going to get Christmas gifts for their family,” Florence Township Police Chief Brian Boldizar wrote on Facebook Monday.
“I was like, ‘Nope. These kids need to have something to open. They’re good kids and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to celebrate Christmas,’” Officer said.
Florence Township police officers, including many who were off-duty, began putting their own money together – and also collected donations – in order to take some of the burden off the family. One officer even told his young children what had happened and they decided to each donate one of their Christmas gifts to the family. A local store, B&H Photo, donated an iPad and the Florence Fraternal Order of Police also made a contribution, Fox News reported.
At the police station, they gathered donated bicycles and set out to make a special delivery to the Ruiz home. The gifts were delivered to the family by officers in uniform — and one dressed as St. Nick.
“They came running out and one of them screamed, ‘You saved Christmas!’ Which I thought was extremely adorable,” said Officer.
“I mean to me it’s like saving Christmas because, I mean, without them they wouldn’t be opening something, you know what I mean?” said Guadalupe Ruiz, who is a single mother to four children. “I thank them very much for their help and everything, my kids are really appreciative.”
“It was just as much a gift for me, seeing them smile, as it was for them,” said Officer.
Officers identified the suspect who stole the vehicle through witness statements and surveillance videos, according to FTPD. Charges were filed and the suspect remained at large as of Christmas morning.
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF OF POLICE
I wanted to take this opportunity to let everyone know how proud and honored I am to work with the men and women of the Florence Township Police Department. Here is the most recent example of why I feel this way. On Saturday, a family from Florence Township had the unfortunate experience of having their vehicle stolen while parked in front of the Quick Stop. To make this experience even worse, the family had most of their Christmas gifts inside of the vehicle. Our officers were called to the Quick Stop and began investigating the situation. The officers were able to identify the suspect who stole the vehicle through witness statements and surveillance videos. Charges were filed and the suspect remains at large.
During this time when most families are preparing to celebrate Christmas, this family not only had to figure out how they were going to get from place to place without a vehicle, they also had to figure out how they were going to get Christmas gifts for their family. Knowing this, our officers started putting their money together over the past two days, along with a donation from the Florence Township F.O.P. Lodge 210, and began shopping for gifts. After hearing about this incident, B&H Photo also donated an iPad to include as a gift. One of the officers told his young daughters what had happened and each of them decided to donate one of their Christmas gifts to the family. The officers then delivered the gifts tonight. Most of these officers were off duty and came in on Christmas Eve to make this family’s Christmas a special one.
I feel that it is very important that you know what your community’s police officers are doing out there and to acknowledge the work of these officers. This job is a lot more than just writing tickets and arresting people. It is about taking care of our community. While that is a part of taking care of the community, so are doing things like they did tonight. Giving back to the community is not uncommon of our officers as you can see when you scroll through our Facebook page.
Once again, I feel privileged to be the Chief of Police of such a great organization and community. Everyone from the command staff, to the officers, to the administrative staff put 100% into their job and it shows.
Okay, I have to wrap this up or my kids will be upset with me when Santa doesn’t come to our house because he saw a light on.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Chief Brian Boldizar
Florence Township Police Department