The eyes of the Sosa-Cruz family grew wide Tuesday night as Glendale police officer Ed Malouf walked into their home.
He had a special delivery for the family: a 6-foot-tall Christmas tree. Marilou Sosa and her three daughters — 5-year-old Maya Cruz, 11-year-old Luci Cruz and 14-year-old Emili Cruz — said they appreciated the officer’s holiday present.
“This means a lot to us because it represents … a time for our family to come together and celebrate,” Emili Cruz said. “Having this tree here is just great.”
The Sosa-Cruzes are just one of 14 families who received a tree Tuesday thanks to the Glendale Police Officers Assn.’s Cops for Kids program. The trees were anonymously donated, and personnel with the Glendale Police Department spent part of the evening mounting the trees to stands before heading out into the city to deliver them.
Amy Tate, who oversees the program, said the families will be revisited by officers in two weeks with presents to put under their trees.
“We wanted to give them the trees early so that they can enjoy [them] a bit before Christmas,” she said.
Money for the presents was raised throughout the year by the association through bake sales, poker and golf tournaments as well as donations, she added.
Families are first chosen by Glendale Unified school officials based on need before they go through a vetting process by the association. Tate said officers conduct house checks to verify the information they’ve received is correct.
About 30 families received trees last year. Tate said the reduction in trees this year was due, in part, to some nominated families opting out.
“There were also a lot of duplicate nominees from previously,” she said. “We try to help them as much as possible, but we can’t do it every year … We have to spread it around.”
After Malouf placed the tree in a corner of the Sosa-Cruz home, Emili Cruz said she already knew what to do next.
“We’re going to put up a bunch of lights around it, some ornaments and a colorful star on top,” she said.