There arose a clatter on the lawns of homes across Stockton early Christmas morning as a company of police officers delivered gifts to families in need.
"I told them Santa gave you guys (the gifts to deliver) because we don't have a chimney," Sofia Rodriguez joked as Chief Eric Jones distributed presents to her three children Makayla, Marcus and A.J. as part of the annual Matt Smith Toy Drive.
On Christmas day, Stockton Police officers and volunteers deliver donated gifts and food to families impacted by crime or other hardship. The toy drive was established to honor Smith, a child-abuse detective, who died in 2010 after battling cancer.
This marked the last toy drive for Jones, who is retiring at the end of the year after nearly 30 years at the department. Jones has participated in the drive since his adult children, Nick and Jackie, were young.
"It's bittersweet. But it's still nice to do this on Christmas," he said. Jones was accompanied by his children, his mother Shirley and his significant other Alia Griffing.
In past years, three teams fanned out to deliver hundreds of gifts across the city. But this year's drive was smaller in scale to reduce COVID-19 risk, according to Stockton Senior Chaplain Jesse Kenyon.
Recipients are selected from among the cases worked on throughout the year by the police's homicide and sexual assault crime units as well as recommendations for families to visit.
"I was really surprised (to be recommended)," Kimberlee Mayo, who greeted officers at the door with her dog Apricot, said.
One stop on the itinerary held special significance for Officer Tela Inn, who helped with the deliveries on Saturday.
It was the home of Kaycie McClure, who tried to aid Inn's husband Officer Jimmy Inn after he was shot while responding to a domestic violence call in May. As McClure was likely the last person to interact with Jimmy before he died, the two women have a special connection, Inn said.
After the gifts were distributed, Inn hugged McClure near the Christmas tree. "I wanted to make sure you were taken care of," Inn said.
Record reporter Aaron Leathley covers business, housing, and land use. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Stockton PD officers deliver holiday cheer to families impacted by crime