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Blue Santa Program surprises H-E-B shoppers with $100

Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 19:27:03-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Forget the red-and-white suit for a minute, because it's all about Blue Santa.

The Blue Santa Program is run by the Corpus Christi Police Officers' Association, and one family is grateful they were in the right place at the right time.

"Whether you are down on your luck or you are not down on your luck," CCPOA President Scott Leeton said. "Everyone can use a little extra at some point, especially around Christmas."

Sixty $100 gift cards were given away at five different H-E-B stores across town.

Johnny Nino and his family were one of the recipients.

"He came up to us and said 'Here, I know a lot of people have been struggling,' " Nino said. "He's all, 'We just want to bless you and make your Christmas a lot more easier.' "

Lucy Lenanaranjo said it came at the perfect time.

"I got chills because I just felt like a lot of families are struggling so around this time -- Christmastime and New Year's is hard," she said. "So when we got it -- we have six kids of our own -- so it was a good blessing."

It happened Wednesday night for this family at the H-E-B Plus in Flour Bluff.

They said they were grocery shopping when they were surprised with a small envelope.

"It helped us get a lot more extra Christmas gifts for our kids," Nino said.

"It brings joy to us at the same time when you give these cards out and you see the emotion and the gratification out of it," Leeton said.

Nino said it is important to him to see police officers interacting in their communities.

"Unfortunately, people don't have contact with the police until it's a negative or adverse thing," Leeton said. "Whether it's a ticket or you are a victim of a crime -- this gives us the ability to interact with the same people that we serve. Because that's what our job is. It's a customer-service job."

Leeton said the response was overwhelming when they were handing out the H-E-B cards.

"The very first card I gave out to a family," he said. "The three kids and the mom immediately gave me a hug."