COVINGTON, LA - The Covington Police Department is spreading some holiday cheer in the form of $100 bills.
Officers are driving around the city and handing out the bills to unsuspecting people. All the money comes from donations. Police call the program the Secret Santa Cash Give Away.
This year, the department will hand out $6,500 in $100 bills as well as another $2,000 in gift cards.
The program started four years ago when Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz said he wanted to boost the image of police officers. He said that too often nationally, officers were being portrayed in a negative light.
He says since then, more donations come in to the department every year to help the cause.
Officers wear their body cams and record the moments. There are plenty of hugs and tears to go around, and the videos are posted on the department's Facebook page.
No doubt the gift giving creates some wonderful and warm holiday moments. But sometimes the response is also sad. Officers say too often, the recipients reveal that they will use the money to pay their electric bills or to buy food. It shows the need to help others during the holidays can go beyond surprises and gifts.
One officer told WGNO about one of his donations last year. He said that he happened to see a woman walking to her car while carrying her baby at a Covington drug store. Little did the officer know at the time that the woman had just come from a pediatrician's office and had a prescription she needed to have filled for her baby. But she didn't have enough money and had returned to her car to see if she could scrounge up the additional $7 she needed.