To the average shopper, it may have looked like a typical Monday evening during the holiday season at Academy Sports + Outdoors. But with a quick glance around, you might have seen a bit of extra Christmas cheer in the store, with Spring ISD police officers in blue Santa hats and 30 students with bigger-than-average smiles on their faces.
Now in its third year, the Spring Independent School District Police Department hosted its annual Blue Santa event on Monday, Dec. 12. District officers and school counselors selected 30 students and their families in advance to spend a few hours on a shopping spree in Academy Sports + Outdoors, where they could spend $200 on any items in the store.
Blue Santa provides assistance during the holiday season to underserved students and families in the Spring ISD community. The program is funded entirely by donations from Spring ISD police officers, community sponsors and partners. This year, the department raised $7,500.
“Every year, Blue Santa provides our department and our officers a chance to give even more to our Spring ISD community,” Chief Ken Culbreath said. “It’s many of our officers’ favorite part of the season, and it gives us all a chance to further connect with our students and their families in a meaningful and long-lasting way.”
In the new year, the department will begin working towards additional Dream Makers programs throughout the school year, including a grant-funded Leadership Academy Program through the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), S.O.A.R. Awards Program, “When I Grow-Up” partnership and Spring ISD Police Literacy Initiative.
That program is one of several initiatives under the police department’s Dream Makers program — a districtwide student leadership and mentoring program designed to encourage and reward students for acts that increase the quality of life on their campuses and within their communities. Through the Dream Makers program, the Spring ISD Police Department supports the positive development of students by improving self-esteem and reducing delinquency.
In addition to funds raised by police officers, sponsors of the Spring ISD Blue Santa project included Jeff and Robben Cunningham with Cunningham Living in Spring, Spring High School alumni Craig Hughes with Hughes Insurance Agency in Old Town Spring, Westfield High School alumni Brett Gunn and Cindy Kettler with G2K Development Partners.