The order of the day was “Hands Out,” instead of “Hands Up” Dec. 14 as the Glenarden Police Department partnered with The Centre at Forestville to host its third annual “Operation Santa with a Badge.”

The “Operation Santa with a Badge” is a nationally recognized program that helps less fortunate children and families during the holiday season. 

The Glenarden Police Department went to three elementary schools within their district: Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, Ardwick Ardmore Elementary School and Kenmoor Elementary School.

During their visit to the schools, the police officers asked the principals to select five children that they feel are not going to have a real good Christmas because of their circumstances.

Although Kenmoor Elementary School, which is located in Landover, is outside of the Glenarden district, many kids from the district attend that school.

Parents brought their children to Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School at 9:30 a.m., where Police Officers met the children and took them to The Centre at Forestville mall.

The children experienced riding in police cruisers, sirens whooping and lights flashing, on their way to the mall.

Lynne Snyder, general manager of The Centre at Forestville and Woodmore Towne Center, coordinated a day of fun for the selected children.

“We just want the children to come here, have fun, make it a different Saturday for them, and bring some holiday spirit for them,” Synder told the AFRO.

“Everything that the mall does, we do absolutely for them,” said Synder. “We wanted to find a way that we could give back to our community, so in collaboration with the police department, we decided to do Santa Operation with a Badge.”

When the children arrived at the mall, they were fed a breakfast of donuts, fruit and juice. After breakfast, the kids participated in a craft fair where they decorated a cut-out Christmas stocking for their families.

While decorating their stockings, the children took turns sitting on Santa Clause lap to engage in a private conversation and take pictures.

After their talk with Santa, they were each given $100 Target gift card to shop for themselves or family members.

Isata J. Jalloh, 9, who attends Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, told the AFRO “My favorite part was when I went shopping with the police officers.”

Afterwards, Glenarden police officers and Snyder helped the kids wrap their purchases.

Each child received warm winter coats and a gift bag filled with toys.

Glenarden Police Chief Philip A. O’Donnell told the AFRO.  “All the police officers that are involved in this, it gives us a sense that throughout the community we’re helping kids that could not have a real good holiday season. It makes us feel good, and makes the city feel good. It’s makes the mayor in council feel good that officers take time to do this for the kids.”

The children were then treated to lunch at Old Country Buffet by the police department before returning to Judge Sylvania Elementary School to be picked up by their parents at 2:30pm.

Courtney Jacobs and Maria Adebola

AFRO Staff Writers