Alaska State Troopers team up with Santa’s Helpers to fill up carts with toys for Fairbanks families

Alaska State Troopers partner with Santa's helpers, to fill up carts with toys for families in the Fairbanks community.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 10:01 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It was a busy morning as Alaska State Troopers (AST) in Fairbanks pushed carts up and down the toy aisle at Walmart.

On Wednesday, AST teamed up with the non-profit Santa’s Helpers to give back to families in need this holiday season.

“We are super excited to be here at Walmart today, because in conjunction with Walmart, our partnership with law enforcement, Fairbanks Nissan, and Santa’s Helpers we are here shopping with Santa, buying gifts for children that are underprivileged in the community,” explained Captain Eric Spitzer with the Alaska State Troopers.

Santa Claus waves behind two Fairbanks Alaska State Troopers as they pick out gifts for families.
Santa Claus waves behind two Fairbanks Alaska State Troopers as they pick out gifts for families.(Julie Swisher)

He said he wants nothing more for kids in Fairbanks and surrounding areas to have a happy and merry Christmas. “When we are done here, we are going to load up the gifts and bring them over to Santa’s Helpers [drop off location],” said Spitzer.

This is the second year the Commander has participated in the annual event. He mentioned teaming up with Santa’s Helpers for the event is great for the community and it is an investment in public trust. “We as Troopers are part of this community and we want to see kids be happy on Christmas day when they open presents under the tree,” he said. “And it is just another opportunity to give back to the community we live in, and work in.”

Troopers filled the carts with card games, balls, and baby dolls. As they grabbed presents off the shelves, they reminisced about some of the presents they wished for when they were young. Several troopers said they wanted Tonka Trucks and Hot Wheels. Others asked for Nerf balls and B.B. guns.

Captain Spitzer said when he was young, he wanted a Red Ryder B.B gun and was willing to take the risk of “shooting his eye out.” “I mean, what kid didn’t want one!” he exclaimed.

He said this couldn’t have happened without the partnership between the agencies. Generous Fairbanks residents even took it upon themselves to give monetary donations there in the store.

“The same thing happened last year,” he said. “We just came here and we were walking through the store and this lady came up and gave us $500 dollars cash and I remembered her from last year. She did the same thing last year! And another guy saw that and he gave $100 dollars!”

Safety Bear strikes a pose as she joins in on the fun during the event.
Safety Bear strikes a pose as she joins in on the fun during the event.(Julie Swisher)

Spitzer said with the cash donations received, they had to bring another truck to fill.

This couldn’t have come at a better time, said Kristen Lawson, President of Santa’s Helpers. She explained they were starting to get low on gifts. “It was really good timing,” she said.

So far there are 200 families that have put in applications for holiday gifts. The organization hopes to give back to 350 families in Fairbanks and North Pole.

“Walmart donated $3000 dollars and the troopers came and shopped. We had some Santa’s Helpers elves help them out,” she added.

She said the 350 number is the goal they try to reach. They purchase food and gifts to meet that number.

There is still time she explained, for those who want to fill out applications to receive donations. They can receive them through the 14th of December. On the 18th is when volunteers will deliver gifts to the families.

“So if you are a family in need, or if you know a family in need go to Santashelpersalaska.com and under family assistance and you can apply,” she said.

There are other ways Santa’s Helpers could use a little extra help. They are looking for volunteers to help wrap and deliver presents when the time comes.

“We are going to need volunteers to help sort these toys,” she explained. " We sort the gifts by gender and age. Then we bag the toys for one specific kid; they will get a bunch of gifts. So that is definitely something that we are going to need help with.”

Lawson wanted to take the time to thank the community for their generosity and all the help that has gone into this event. “This community is more than giving,” she said kindly. “It’s amazing, and we love that we can help these families in need and make sure that they have a really good Christmas.”

When asked what she wished for when she was young, Lawson replied as she laughed, “Clothes. I loved going to school in my new clothes.”

Kristen Lawson, President of Santa's Helpers smiles with Alaska State Troopers on Wednesday.
Kristen Lawson, President of Santa's Helpers smiles with Alaska State Troopers on Wednesday.(Julie Swisher)

The troopers spent a good while at the registers as toys and gifts beeped and banged through the check stand. They were then loaded into the trucks and headed to the next stop. This is just the next stop before they reach their final destination, in the arms of kids in the community this holiday season.

Troopers wait patiently as they get ready to load up the gifts.
Troopers wait patiently as they get ready to load up the gifts.(Julie Swisher)