Crete Police’s Operation ‘Under the Tree’ completing record-setting fifth year

Crete Police’s Operation ‘Under the Tree’ completing record-setting fifth year
The Crete Police Department was able to purchase more than 20 bikes for their annual Operation "Under the Tree," thanks to generous donations from people all over Saline County.

CRETE, NE – Crete Police has helped those in need in Saline County around the holidays with “Operation Under the Tree.”

“In the last coupe years, it’s gone from just toys to clothes as well,” senior public officer Audrey Arbuckle said. “We just want to make sure kids across the county enjoy the holiday season and that everyone gets something under the Christmas tree.”

Arbuckle has been with Crete PD for nearly five years – the same amount of time the department has organized this giant toy drive.

“This is the biggest year we’ve had,” Arbuckle said. “We’ve helped almost 130 families this year, and that’s up from 90 the year before. We thought last year was big. It’s the most toys and money we’ve ever collected.”

Operation “Under The Tree” kicks off on Black Friday. Arbuckle says the department sets up in front of the Wal-Mart in Crete, accepting toys and monetary donations.

Most of what’s donated is collected in the 2-3 days after Thanksgiving. Crete PD will be at Wal-Mart 5-6 hours on each of those days.

In total, Crete Police has collected over 1,000 toys and $2,000 in donations. Seven hundred of those dollars was raised by students at Crete Intermediate, who sold popcorn and used the profits to buy toys at Wal-Mart. The toys were then packed inside a Crete Police cruiser.

All of the toys donated will be delivered to the United Church of Christ First Congregational in Crete on Thursday. They’ll be divided out based on age and gender, and then families can come select which toys they want starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“We are so thankful that the communities in Saline County have been so helpful this year,” Arbuckle said. “We could have never imaged it’d be this big. To help over 130 families, which is over 400 kids, is something we never could have imagined.”

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