CLARKSBURG -- They wear green, not red. They ride in cars, not a reindeer-drawn sleigh. They scour the streets every day, not circle the globe overnight.
But for some people, the state police are a tangible Santa Claus.
Since 1989, West Virginia's finest have distributed more than 100,000 toys to some of the state's most destitute children, the law enforcement agency says.
The program, entitled "State Troopers for West Virginia Needy," consists of the 60-plus-detachment-force collecting toys and non-perishable canned goods at each location.
No money is accepted.
The gifts and food are delivered throughout December by the Salvation Army -- which partners with the state police.
"What better way for those who are dedicated to protect and serve those in need -- to help serve some needy citizens of West Virginia," said Superintendent Gary Edgell. "We oftentimes don't realize how truly blessed we are, and we should do our part to brighten the holiday season of those in need."
The program is similar to the national Toys for Tots program created in 1947 by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
West Virginia authorities say their program is a growing phenomenon.
"I look forward to this drive every year, because every year we surpass the previous year," Edgell said. "I encourage everyone to do what they can for the less fortunate this holiday season."
Regional detachments are located in:
- Harrison County, Route 2, Box 26, Bridgeport, 26330-9710, 304-627-2300.
- Upshur County, 1 B-U Drive, Buckhannon, 26201-9410, 304-473-4200.
- Randolph County, 1300 Harrison Ave., Elkins, 26241-3323, 304-637-0200.
- Marion County, Box 767, Fairmont, 26555-0767, 304-367-2701.
- Taylor County, Route 4, Box 54A, Grafton, 26354-9306, 304-265-6101.
- Ritchie County, Star Route 80, Box 3, Harrisville, 26362-9502, 304-634-2101.
- Barbour County, Route 2, Box 313F, Philippi, 26416-9673, 304-457-1101.
- Harrison County, Box 95, Shinnston, 26431-0095, 304-592-1101.
- Lewis County, P.O. Box 467, Weston, 26452-0467, 304-269-0500.
- Doddridge County, Route 2, Box 14A, West Union, 26456-9503, 304-873-2101.
Staff writer J.R. Brammer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.