Operation Santa in full swing

Whitcoulls Invercargill staff Gail Mackintosh and Roz Waldron deliver 144 teddy bears to Police constables Katie Haldane and Martie Lohrey on Tuesday.
Southland Hospital’s children’s ward was given 228 teddy bears, gifted from Whitcoulls’ customers. Pictured are children’s ward staff (from left) Allana Bunting, Debra Maheno, Pauline Gillan, with Whitcoulls staff members Gail Mackintosh and Roz Waldron.

SOUTHLANDERS’ generosity has come to the fore again as 144 teddy bears were donated to Invercargill Police to distribute as part of their Operation Santa programme.

A further 228 donated bears were gifted to Southland Hospital’s children’s ward where new homes would be found for each bear to go.

Police Senior Sergeant Andrew Karsten said it was an opportunity for the public to see police were there to help people where they could.

The bears would be shared between the Youth Service, Family Harm and Road Policing teams.

Constable Katie Haldane said the bears were often great ice-breakers which could be used with young children who had been caught up in intense or traumatic situations.

Operation Santa was the collaborative efforts of the Police Family Harm team, Waihopai Runaka, Family Works, Women’s Refuge, Oranga Tamariki, Department of Corrections and Ministry of Social Development to work with families at risk.

Last year, the Operation Santa programme was able to help 15 at-risk families and it was hoped to achieve a similar success this year.

Roading Police, performing restraint checks, would randomly reward those who were using correct child restraints, Sergeant Karsten said.

The bears were donated by Whitcoulls’ customers who could choose to donate the bear they had bought.