12/21/15 Making a merry holiday

Graham High School students, from left, Michelle Pineda, Larry Diaz and Andy Torres, help to load canned food that has been collected at the school Wednesday. The Graham Police Department helped collect money from local businesses and organizations, school officials used it to purchase food and gifts, and staff and students worked to assemble gift bags for families in need.

Sam Roberts / Times-News

Graham High School students, from left, Michelle Pineda, Larry Diaz and Andy Torres, help to load canned food that has been collected at the school Wednesday. The Graham Police Department helped collect money from local businesses and organizations, school officials used it to purchase food and gifts, and staff and students worked to assemble gift bags for families in need.

Making a merry holiday
Graham Middle School teams up with cops to wrap presents for families
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 12/21/15  
Reprinted with permission.  

GRAHAM — The Auditorium at Graham Middle School on Thursday looked a little like mom and dad’s bedroom on Christmas Eve with toys stacked up, rolls of wrapping paper on the floor, and bikes leaning against furniture.

Graham police, school staff and a lot of their kids got together to wrap presents and package food for Operation Merry Christmas, which provided toys for 15 families with more than 30 children aged 19 months to 17 years. There were also gift bags with things like toiletries and socks for about 160 senior citizens in local residential facilities and in the “Are You OK” program, Lt. J.P. Flood said.

On Wednesday, students at Graham High and Middle schools and Ray Street Academy collected canned food. On Thursday, school staff and police got together in the auditorium to see who could wrap presents faster and/or better.

“So when families come in to get presents, they can also get canned food,” GMS Principal Patrick Hosey said.

The police raised money from local businesses and civic groups, and Flood, GMS school resource officer T. Barnes, Sgt. Tony Velez and department administrative assistant Susan Clayton spent a lot of the past week buying presents and putting bikes together.

The police have been doing this for about 15 years, Flood said, but have only been working with the schools for a couple of years.

Police found most of the families through Christmas Cheer, but the department found a few families on its own. They came to pick up this year’s gifts Friday.