Students involved with the Panama City Police Department Explorers program are getting a lesson in giving back. Friday morning, they went to Oscar Patterson Elementary School for the first part of one special program. The program is called Operation Santa. It's an annual event held by the Explorers Post where they partner up with the school to buy Christmas gifts for children.
For 18 years the Panama City Police Department's Explorers Post program has worked hand in hand with Oscar Patterson Elementary School. The Explorers, who are local teenagers, are paired with children from the school and then the bonding begins.
"Our Explorers come out, they have lunch with them, they end up bonding with the children,” said Sgt. Chris Edmundson of PCPD Community Services Div.. “It allows them an opportunity to mentor some of these children and find out what their needs are for the upcoming holiday season."
"It's a really good experience the kids have a lot of fun with it, it's a really great feeling knowing that they're going to get something they like," said PCPD Explorer Brett Oram
"We can do things, but we can't always do the things that we like and you know what, I lived through that,” said PCPD Explorer James Traynor. “If I can help these kids out and I can connect with them or at least give them something, I'm gonna feel good about it at the end of the day."
But the benefits of the program are two-fold.
"It provides the opportunity for the explorers to come out here and mentor some of the younger children, also see the different side of law enforcement,” said Edmundson. “This gives us the chance to show the community and show our kids in the explorers program that a big part of our job is community service and giving back to the community we're here to serve."
The students in the Explorer Program will be working with the kids at Oscar Patterson for the next month and will be choosing the gifts and helping pay for them.