Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Spreading joy – wherever it’s needed

Stevensville police officer Sam Fawcett is one of the many ‘Santas’ working to brighten the Christmas season for many in Stevensville. He is the School Resource Officer at Stevensville School. His normally tidy office looks as if it’s a staging area for Santa right now. Jean Schurman photo.

Stevensville police officer Sam Fawcett is one of the many ‘Santas’ working to brighten the Christmas season for many in Stevensville. He is the School Resource Officer at Stevensville School. His normally tidy office looks as if it’s a staging area for Santa right now. Jean Schurman photo.

By Jean Schurman

Santa Claus normally wears a red suit and drives a sled. Not in Stevensville, Montana, though. Santa wears a police uniform and drives a patrol car, and sometimes there are more than one Santa Claus. Sam Fawcett is the school resource officer, or SRO, for the Stevensville Police Department and spends his days at Stevensville School.
Last year he and the Stevensville Police Department made some ‘traffic stops’ where they handed out gifts instead of tickets and the ‘Santa on Patrol’ program began. This year, the department has partnered with the Stevensville Knights of Columbus Council 13093 to provide Christmas to those who are down on their luck.
Fawcett and crew have already made this Christmas special for one family. The family, made up of mom and dad and four kids, were living in a camper with not much hope of having a ‘real’ home by Christmas. The family moved in from out of state for work and was left stranded when that job fell through. Mom is working part time but it’s not enough.
When the ‘Santas’ heard of this family’s plight, they went to work. An apartment was found and the Knights paid three month’s rent. It was unfurnished so they found some furniture including donated beds from Bitterroot Furniture. They bought bedding, dishes, silverware, everything needed for a home. The money was from donations made to the program throughout the year. They are even working with the couple to find permanent work.
“We wanted to buy as much as we could right here in the valley,” said Fawcett. “Giving is full circle so we hope this gets paid forward at some point.”
The group went so far as to have stocking presents on hand when the family moved in. It was one more touch to make this apartment their home. He said one of the young children wanted to know where to put her boots and he said, “wherever you want to put them, it’s your home now.”
As the school resource officer, Fawcett often learns about those who are having difficulties at Christmas time. He works with the Sharing Tree program but there are still those who fall between the cracks and the Santa on Patrol program can help with some of these situations. He said many people want to give to the program.
“It’s not a lot, but if you give $20 and another gives $20, it adds up,” he said. “It’s amazing how the people in this community cares and that they donate without any publicity.”
There are some larger donations and some people make donations throughout the year to help with the program. From clothing to toys and even a game or two, the packages and bags multiplied until his office looked as if ‘Christmas exploded’ in it with gifts, wrapping paper and ribbon everywhere. Many students from the school came in and volunteered to wrap the presents. Fawcett stresses the names of the recipients are never shown.
“It’s really good to have students have this positive interaction with the police and with those who are less fortunate,” he said. “In light of all the negative images around the country, not here, it does help the police department.”
While the one family has settled into their home, there are still others in need. The police department has a list just like Santa, and the officers are on the lookout for some of these people. They will be making stops, either at homes or traffic stops, to hand out presents and gift cards. They may even stop unsuspecting people who aren’t on their list and give out a gift card.
“It’s at our discretion,” said Fawcett.
So if you see a traffic stop this week that doesn’t look like a normal stop, it just might be the Santas on Patrol, spreading cheer and goodwill.

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