Annual ‘Santa’s Ride’ collects toys, brings Christmas joy early to Fairfax Co. students

Virginia

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — It’s that time of year again: the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) held their annual “Santa’s Ride” on Tuesday.

Every year, FCPD collects toys through community donations for children who will be spending the holidays in hospitals. After all the presents are donated, Santa Claus trades in his sleigh for a Harley-Davidson and his reindeer for a police escort, collecting presents and visiting children across the county.

New, unwrapped toys, games and books will be donated to children at Fairfax Hospital, Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center, and children in the community who need a present to unwrap at Christmas.

“The holidays are a special time for everyone, but once you go into a hospital and you see these children going through various treatments, some who may never leave the hospital, it really touches you,” said Sgt. Tara Gerhard, FCPD.

The annual ride has been going on for 33 years, but Gerhard says the tradition wouldn’t be possible without community support.

“We also have local donors who donate tens of thousands of dollars worth of toys, which is incredible, and it’s how we get to spread so much holiday cheer,” said Gerhard.

Maureen Ashby, principal at Holy Spirit School in Annandale, looks forward to finding new ways to surprise her kids every year.

“Every month, we have a fire drill, and it was the easiest way to get them outside and have them assume nothing else was going on,” said Ashby.

As students at Holy Spirit School lined up outside for the fire drill, Santa’s motorcade arrived to surprise the unsuspecting students.

“There’s a buzz that continues around the school for the rest of the day. They’re very excited,” said Ashby. “They will often just come up to you or a teacher and say, ‘Did you see Santa?’ because they just want to make sure that everyone was a part of the experience.”

Santa made stops at 10 to 15 different schools, including a stop in the Mosaic District, to spread some holiday cheer.

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