Lancaster Police play “Santa’s elves” for children in need

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Santa Claus got a little help from some special elves in uniform. Lancaster Police Department employees and their families dropped off Christmas gifts to more than 100 city children on Christmas Eve.

The police department looked a lot like Santa’s workshop, filled with boxes full of toys and elves preparing to deliver the gifts. Only these elves wear blue and badges.

“We gather names through the School District of Lancaster,” said Lt. Timothy Frey. “Those names are submitted by teachers and administrators, needy children who may not see a Christmas.”

Sgt. Phil Berkheiser and his family are among the elves this year. He’s making his list and checking it twice.

“There is no naughties on this list!” he said.

The Berkheisers soon found that Santa’s journey can be a little bumpy at times. At some houses, there was no one home to accept the gifts and Sgt. Berkheiser had to make a quick pit stop from gift-giving to help a stranded motorist.

But it’s all worth it for the reactions they received.

“Thank you so much! God Bless You! Merry Christmas to y’all. God Bless You, Sir,” said one recipient.

“There’s still people out there that have the actual reason for the reason and not think of themselves,” said Sis Cunningham, another recipient. “It makes me feel great.”

It made Santa’s elves for the day feel ever better.

“Just giving it to them is nice,” said Yeira Berkheiser, 10. “It’s kind of fun to see who answers the door and how they answer it.”

“We get to see actually the blessing of the gifts and the smiles of the people that are receiving them,” Sgt. Berkheiser said.

Now retired police officer Ted Makauskas started this Lancaster Police Department tradition about seven or eight years ago. Hundreds of children have since received Christmas gifts through his efforts.

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