Oklahoma ranks second in the nation for the number of grandparents now having to raise their grandchildren.
Unfortunately, it is a growing trend in our state. Wednesday, law enforcement from all over Oklahoma County shopped for Christmas gifts to give those children. Some of the kids' wish list items were heartbreaking.
"These are children who will not have a Christmas if not for this program," said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, Midwest City Police, Oklahoma City Police and several community partners and volunteers joined efforts to make it happen. All the kids on the shopping lists are being raised by their grandparents.
They are called “grandfamilies”. The grandfamily Whetsell shopped for is shopping 13 grandchildren.
"They're asking for a few toys and a lot of them are asking for things like blankets, so they can stay warm, underwear, socks," Whetsel explained.
The agencies raised money all year long and came up with nearly $20,000. That meant they could spend $30 on each child.
"When you see a child asking for shampoo and conditioner, that will tear you up," said OCDP's Sheryl Presley.
Sunbeam Family Services screened each family to make sure they were in need before the shopping spree. When the program started 13 years ago, they were buying for less than 50 kids. Now, they are buying for 600 kids.
"A lot of the parents turn to drugs, gambling addictions, things that are so bad that they get to the point that they just walk away from their children or are not able to take care of their children," Presley told News 9.
Many of the officers donated money out of their own pockets to help as many grandparents and grandchildren as possible.
"These grandparents have stepped up big time in order to make sure that these children have a life and this is the least we can do," said Whetsel.
The big holiday party and gift giveaway for the grandfamilies is Saturday, Dec. 6.