Fort Worth police officers deliver gifts to Carroll Peak Elementary School

FORT WORTH -- Christmas shopping starts early for Fort Worth police officer Chris Munday and his wife, Keitha.

That's the way it goes when you've got more than 500 children on your list.

For the last few years, the Mundays, aided by D&M Leasing, colleagues, friends and family, have helped Santa deliver toys and school supplies to hundreds of children at Carroll Peak Elementary.

On Friday morning, Fort Worth police officers including Chief Jeff Halstead were on hand as about 540 children, some waving and shouting "hi" to Santa, waited their turn to receive a bag filled with goodies and to meet the big guy in the red suit.

"They have been so good to us," Principal Lear Linton said. "We have a 97 percent poverty rate in our school, so it means a great deal. You see their little faces. They are so excited."

Munday said that years ago, his wife suggested doing something for a school on his beat.

"My wife and I, we've both been blessed, and she's always wanting to give back," Munday said. "It helps my community out that I work in. It shows these kids that police officers are also good people.

"During the year, I'll see these kids walking with the bags and backpacks and I'll ask, 'Where'd you get that cool backpack?' And they'll say, 'Santa Claus brought it,'" Munday said. "I'll say, 'Are you being good this year for Santa Claus to bring you something again?' And they're like, 'Oh yeah! Oh yeah!'"

D&M, where Keitha Munday works as a lease manager, donated $2,500 to the effort this year. The Mundays and Keitha Munday's colleague Sara Chinn and her husband, David, pitched in the rest.

Chris Munday said friends and fellow neighborhood patrol officers from the central division "help me with the back work," loading and unloading the many toys.

Keitha Munday does all the shopping. She has already scoped out sales this week for next year.

"You never know when the good deals are going to pop up," she said. "You've just got to take them when you can get them."

Some of the children were even given new clothes and shoes, said Cameka Clark, a school secretary who helps coordinate the event.

Children gave hugs and thank-you cards and sang Christmas carols to show their appreciation to the visitors. Taliyah Phillips, a fifth-grader, can still rattle off the gifts she's received the past few years.

"Since I've been in second grade, they've been doing it," said Taliyah, 10. "I've got backpacks, a Cabbage Patch and a variety of stuff."

This year, a play makeup kit had Taliyah and classmate Jessica Ramirez beaming.

"I don't know how to repay them," Jessica said. "I was really happy. I like them coming here."

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655