“Our clients look forward to this every year,” said Sandy Doughty, the association’s executive director.
The Glendale Police Officer’s Assn. has visited the clients during the holidays for about 25 years, said Wendy Wojnarowski, office manager with the police association.
During the visits, police officers hand out goody bags and T-shirts and sing holiday songs with clients.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” said Officer Larry Ballesteros, who’s also the police association’s president.
The police association also donates money to the organization, which was critical this year after GAR’s budget was slashed by 3.5%, Doughty said.
This year, staffers had to take off four days without pay, officials said.
“This really has been hurtful to our budget,” said Sharon Roth, director for the Glendale Foundation for the Retarded.
To make up for the cuts, the organization has upped its fundraising efforts, she said.
And donations, such as the police association’s, help pay for essential services, including clients’ dental care, Roth said.
Still, the real treat was seeing Santa.
“I am happy that they came out here,” client Joseph Monjo said.
John Farson was eager to tell Santa the long list of gifts he wants for Christmas.
“I have four choices: sports stuff, baseball cards, Gameboy player and a brand-new pair of socks,” he said.
Clients also have their photographs taken with Santa, who was portrayed by motor Officer Bryan Duncan.
Duncan said he has volunteered to dress up as Santa for two years because it’s a way to give back to people who really appreciated it.