When Glendale police called Pualana Basbas to say that her family was among the 31 chosen this year to receive Christmas gifts through the union's annual holiday program, she felt like she'd won the lottery.
"I'm speechless," she said Thursday evening after two Glendale officers, along with their families and friends, stopped by her home to drop off dozens of gifts for her three children, three grandchildren and son-in-law.
The past several months have been rough for her and her two young children, who in July unexpectedly lost their father to a heart attack.
"It helped financially in a huge unexplainable way, but emotionally and mentally, it got me going again," she said of the agency's generosity.
The deliveries — organized through the police union's Cops for Kids program — were the culmination of a year's worth of fundraising.
Year round, employees who donated $2 on Fridays could come to work in jeans, while police also hosted special events, such as golf and poker tournament fundraisers.
Officers also set up toy donation bins around the city, including at the Glendale Galleria and Alex Theatre.
Meanwhile, in the detective bureau, officers created a Christmas tree made of sticky notes, with each note identifying a different toy or gift. Detectives who peeled off a sticky note were responsible for donating the item listed.
Glendale Police Commander Theresa Goldman said the tree deliveries brought her to tears. When she pulled up to one home to drop off a tree, it was raining, and the family was waiting under umbrellas on the porch. One little girl rushed over and hugged her leg.
"Without the community backing us, this here would not happen," said Glendale police officer and event organizer Bryan Duncan, who serves as a union board member and chairman of the Cops for Kids program.
Alene Tchekmedyian, firstname.lastname@example.org