BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Normally the sight and sounds of law enforcement vehicles followed by a fire truck mean bad news, but emergency vehicles showing up Friday afternoon at Louisiana State Police Troop A headquarters meant Santa Claus was on the way.
A group of kids, along with the Louisiana State Trooper's Association, were waiting for his arrival.
For the past 6 years, the State Trooper's Association has adopted several families and given them an early Christmas.
"It gets us off the streets, out of uniform, out there with the public," said Chase Duval with the Louisiana State Trooper's Association. "When you see these kids' faces today when they receive these gifts from all the state troopers, it's awesome," he said.
This year LSP took it a step further by adopting a group of young men with the Building Professionals Group and giving them tablets. Antonia Pittman, a law enforcement officer and president of the mentorship program said the kids voluntarily participating are learning how to prepare themselves for a better future.
"It's important that we don't just sit in our offices and say we can affect change," Pittman said. "You have to get out and let these kids touch you. As a police officer, I let them touch my badge and let them know, you too can do that," he said.
One family who met Santa had no idea they were recipients.
"I was shocked to see all these gifts out here and I know our kids were too," said Vernon and Mary Yoder.
The Yoder's and their six children have fallen on hard times so, in recent years, their children haven't gotten what's on their Christmas wish list.
"It's scattered out throughout the year through birthday presents or maybe they just adapt to something else. This was a miracle to them," Mrs. Yoder said.
LSP officials said they hope this surprise Christmas will lift their spirits.
"Police in general, they have that negativity from the public that we're always out there just to write tickets or arrest somebody and we're not," Duval said.
"There's another side to us, all these troopers do this from the bottom of their hearts," he said.
"To think that they got so much, because I know they weren't expecting gifts and then to get that much, it's definitely overwhelming for them," Mrs. Yoder said.
LSP officials said they have at least 3 more families they adopted and have plans to d rop off gifts this weekend.