PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A badge, a vest, some handcuffs, a gun, and a Santa hat. Just another night working the beat for Puyallup Police Captain Scott Engle.
Friday night's patrol has one goal in mind: giving.
"Tonight's the night where we go out there and really know that we're making a difference," Engle said.
He is one of the dozens of volunteers with the Santa Cops program that the department has been running for two decades.
Earlier in the week, volunteers selected 50 different families from the city and surprised them with hand-delivered bags of food, toys, dry goods and even dog food. Members of the community anonymously nominate people they know that need a leg up during the holiday season.
"Hopefully some bright and positive happiness for them in a critical time of the year," Engle said.
During one of the visits Friday night, Engle delivered gifts to a family with a 5-year-old girl and a grandmother recovering from chemotherapy.
At another, a woman's voice cracked and wavered as she looked at the ten bags of free food and supplies.
"It's hard for me as a parent just trying to make it. I struggle. I'm just thankful that someone reached out and helped us," she said.
Engle says he will gladly change his police scanner for a Santa hat on nights like this. Trading crime for cheer is as good as it gets.
"The tears start flowing and the smiles and even the shock that we're there," he said.