ANDERSON — This year will be a special Christmas for 12-year-old Teresa Davenport.
“I’m very happy,” Davenport said. “I know I’m actually going to get presents this year.”
Five Anderson police officers wearing Santa hats, along with Police Chief Larry Crenshaw and Deputy Mayor Pete Heuer, greeted Davenport's family with armfuls of Christmas presents on Friday.
The gifts were purchased by the Anderson Police Department with funds from a No Shave November fundraiser that was extended into December to purchase gifts for two needy families in the area.
Crenshaw said although the Shop with a Cop program in Anderson was eliminated, officers said they wanted to give back to the community and help families who may be struggling with the holidays. He told his wife, Laura Crenshaw, who works at Anderson High School, that they were looking for families to help and she assisted them in their search.
“We had adopted several families at the school, but there was one family we were not able to help because it came in later,” Laura Crenshaw said. “Several teachers submitted the name of (another) family.”
Davenport, who attends Highland Middle School, was stunned by the generosity of the officers and so was her family.
As officers carefully placed the gifts under the Davenports' empty Christmas tree, the young girl could not keep a smile from slowly spreading across her face.
“I didn’t expect so much,” said her mother, Donna Davenport. “I’ve been having a really tough time, and I didn’t think they would get Christmas this year."
She said recent health issues and a cutback in her hours had created a significant hardship for her family.
Victoria Davenport, 15, a student at Anderson High School who had told her teachers that she just wanted to make sure her little sister had a gift under the tree, said she was very thankful for the gifts and everything the police officers had done to make their holiday a nice one.
In addition to clothing for the students, each family was given several grocery items and a filled stocking.
Friday night, the items were delivered and both families were surprised by the deliveries.
“I was quite surprised and dutifully unsettled for a minute,” Wayne Highsmith said.
Highsmith’s 19-year-old stepsons, Jon and David Nolley, attend Anderson High School, and Jon said he thought the delivery would be on Christmas Eve.
“I just thought one of the teachers was going to give it to one of the boys. I did not expect anyone to show up,” said Robin Highsmith, the mother of the boys.
Donna Davenport struggled with tears after the officers left.
“Last year, there wasn’t a whole lot, but at least this year they will have something,” she said.
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