MESA, AZ — Every detail was clearly considered with heartfelt passion inside the North Mesa Fraternal Order of Police lodge Friday. The destination of every present being wrapped is an annual display from Valley officers and their families representing what it means to wear a badge.
“I took an oath to help protect and serve and help our community and this is part of the serving and helping part and that’s what makes the job worthwhile,” said Mesa Police Lt. Bryan Soller.
The day is a family tradition going on 26 years now for Soller. Bryan first brought his daughter along at the age of six. Now a mother herself, her kids join in on the action.
“I have it organized from youngest to oldest mom,” instructs Roxanne.
“Families try to do the best they can do for their families, sometimes they’re just so down and out, they have nothing they can give anymore,” said Bryan. “I’ve been doing this 26 years, I’ve had people walk up to me and say, Officer Soller, you may not remember me but when I was a little kid, you brought toys to my house, and I want to thank you.”
It’s all part of the 911 Toy Drive. Every year, hundreds of police officers across the state adopt families from their patrol districts who need a helping hand, providing Christmas gifts for kids who might otherwise go without.
“It goes from disbelief to believing,” said W. Steven Martin.
“W” as he’s known might as well be Santa’s brother. Not only with an uncanny resemblance but the fact he’s led this effort for decades. He provides toys collected year-round in order to bring a community together.
“What we try to do is get men and women in uniform in the door of homes where they need to see police in a different light,” said W.
Next Tuesday, a parade of officers will pick up the gifts from Courtesy Automotive Group Dealership collection locations, ready to shower families with kindness.
“We brought you presents,” exclaims Soller after the door opens to a North Mesa home this afternoon.
“Are those for us,” asks a little boy with a huge smile.
Soller and his family made their first drop of the season to a family of six who couldn’t be more appreciative.
“I want to say, really, thank you guys, from the bottom of my heart it means a lot to us,” says the father to Soller and his family as he held back tears.
They stood together for a quick photo, all yelling Merry Christmas in unison. A heartfelt reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.