By Jackson Bell, The Los Angeles Times
NORTHEAST GLENDALE, Calif. - When it comes to celebrating the holidays with her children, finding a safe place is a top priority for Anna Carias.
So when the Glendale mother was invited to let her daughter and two sons join the fun in Glendale Police's annual holiday party for needy kids Saturday, she immediately made reservations.
"This gives the kids a chance to enjoy themselves in a nice environment," Carias said. "And what could be safer than with police?"
About 250 Glendale children, ages 4 to 10, from low-income families packed the Community Room in the Glendale Police Station, 131 N. Isabel St., as officers handed out presents and goodie bags and served a hamburger lunch donated by Burger King.
Parents were asked to stay outside while a magician entertained their kids, who were waiting to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.
Det. Darrel McEntarffer volunteered at the event because he likes bringing yuletide excitement to youngsters who might otherwise not have Christmas presents.
"The kids enjoy themselves and get really excited about it," McEntarffer said. "And it's fun for me because my two sons are now grown up."
The officers spent about $5,000 this year to buy each child a present and put on the party, an annual event for at least 15 years, officials said. The police officers find most of the children through local charitable organizations.
Some of the children are just as thankful as their parents for having been invited to the party.
"I told Santa thanks for the present, and have a happy new year," 5-year-old Martin Villasenor said.
To donate money for future charitable events like this, call the Glendale Police Officers Assn. at 246-9053.