Emanoel Davoodi Masihi’s Christmas is looking a lot greener this year, specifically evergreen.
The 12-year-old and his mother, Stella Zadoorian, were just one of 17 families on Thursday to receive a special holiday delivery from the Glendale Police Officers’ Assn.: a 6-foot-tall Christmas tree. Donated by a local business, the trees are distributed as a part of the association’s Cops for Kids program.
The sixth-grader from Toll Middle School said it was his first Christmas tree and he was “really excited” to start decorating it.
“I’m going to make a star [to put on top of the tree],” he said.
To help jump start things, Amy Tate, who oversees the program, went out and bought some lights to string around the tree.
While decorating the trees is typically the responsibility of the families that receive them, Tate said she couldn’t resist Davoodi Masihi’s big eyes and wide grin when he found out about getting the tree and asked if it came with lights.
“He was so excited and I didn’t have the heart to tell him no,” she said.
In addition to the lights Tate said she also got several ornaments including a blue one adorned with the image of a police badge to hang on the tree.
Tate said families who are gifted with the trees are identified by Glendale Unified officials on the basis of need or they can nominate themselves directly. While there isn’t a set list of qualifications families need to meet, they are still vetted by the association and house checks are conducted by officers to verify that a family is actually in need.
However officers stop short of asking families their income.
“We go into the homes and looking around, talk to the kids,” Tate said. “We ask the kids if we weren’t going to help what would their Christmas be like … we see what their answers are.”
After the trees are set up, the association will return to the 17 families in a few weeks with presents to put underneath.
For Glendale Police officers like Mark Newborg and Taylor Zavala, the tree delivery gives them an opportunity to spread some Christmas cheer in the community.
Zavala said it was great to decorate the tree with Davoodi Masihi and see his face light up as it came together.
Newborg added that these families are already grateful for what they have, but when the association comes in with the trees and the presents “they really take it to heart and appreciate what we do.”
“These are good kids from the very beginning and it’s nice to see them enjoy the holidays like everybody else,” Newborg said.