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Police to help Santa

Prineville Police officers, county sheriff's deputies and volunteers from the fire department and Search & Rescue are joining in to make Christmas better for families in need
For the second year, the Crook County Sheriff's deputies and staff are gearing up to play Santa to a number of local families. Only this year they have combined with the staff of the Prineville Police Department, the Fire Department and the county Search and Rescue team to make it a combined effort.
   County Corrections Officer Brandon Smith came up with the idea for the sheriff's office last year. "Last year we were by ourselves. Each department had their own program. This year we've pulled all the emergency agencies together," Smith said.
   And it appears to be paying off. Taking names from the Tree of Joy, the group originally estimated they would be able to help seven families with a total of 28 kids. "There are still a lot more families that need help and we're going to take care of as many as we can," Smith said. This year, the focus will expand to include a number of the community's elderly, also.
   The plan is for the deliveries to be made to families early on the day before Christmas. The deliveries will be made in patrol units and fire trucks, Smith said. "We'll pull up to the houses, turn on our overhead flashers and make the delivery. Everybody likes firemen, but we think it)ll be good for people to see us (police officers and sheriff's deputies) as being the good guys, too."
   Each of the agencies have been gathering food, toys and money but more is needed. At least two local businesses, Prineville Glass and Ochoco Thriftway, have made donations, according to Undersheriff Jim Hensley. Anyone wishing to donate toys or money can do so at any of three locations: police department, the sheriff's office or the fire hall.
   The fire department is conducting a holiday food and toy drive on the evenings of Dec. 11, 12 and 13.
   On those evenings, volunteers will be in the Juniper Canyon area on Tuesday, Dec. 11, in Powell Butte on the 12th, and in the Prineville neighborhoods on all three evenings from 7 to 9 p.m..
   During the drive, donations of non-perishable foods, new toys for children of all ages or cash will be accepted.
   Donations of non-perishable food, new toys or cash can be made at the fire department, 500 NE Belknap St. - Prineville Police Department, 400 NE 3rd St. or Crook County Sheriff's office, 308 NE 2nd St. All donations will go to local families in need.