AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police have announced that not only are they taking over the distribution of gifts to thousands of needy kids, but they are also investigating the Christmas Bureau of Austin and Travis County on accusations of misconduct.
Thursday morning Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo unveiled a plan during a press conference at the Long Center to take over the Christmas Bureau's traditional holiday reins in giving out presents to children in need.
Uncertain of whether or not it is a criminal investigation being launched, police said that, regardless, thousands of families are potentially being affected.
"Nobody, nobody that makes a promise to a family, especially to a child, should break that promise," said Acevedo. "And we've got 6,000 families that are depending on the Christmas Bureau, they're now depending on Blue Santa. And we're depending on you Austin. Please step up."
APD's Blue Santa will be searching for donations for all those families, in addition to the thousands they already serve. Still, the Department plans to keep up with its annual goal during Operation Blue Santa.
By this time of the year, the Christmas Bureau is used to seeing $30,000 in its account -- though Christmas Bureau Director Shon Washington said its PayPal account only had $99 as of a couple days ago.
Acevedo added that they are not sure if any of the Christmas Bureau's money is missing or was mishandled, but they intend to track it down. On top of the investigation, Acevedo is advising everyone to avoid donating to the Christmas Bureau.
Instead, an account has been set up at Wells Fargo to donate to Blue Santa directly. If you would like to donate food, toys or money to Operation Blue Santa, you can call 512-974-2583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
About the area elves
Holiday cheer comes in the way of toys and necessities for kids during Christmas, all made possible by a trinity of helpful organizations: APD's Blue Santa, Travis County Sheriff's Office Brown Santa and the Christmas Bureau.
The Christmas Bureau usually leads the charitable cause and is the main point of distribution to the thousands of area families, but Acevedo said there is a disconnect somewhere -- which seems to center around the Christmas Bureau director.
KXAN News has been reporting since Sunday how major changes to the Christmas Bureau's leadership have put Santa's helpers at the bureau extremely behind in preparation this year.
The charity had behind on collecting donations and didn't have a place to store the toys.
Washington had been scrambling and "looked to come home and get a location and kick up" after he got a late start this year -- saying he was out of the country for a family emergency.
About the Christmas Bureau
The founder of the Christmas Bureau, Alma Cruz, passed away after battling an illness in 2011.
Since then, Washington said he's been behind it when it comes to planning.
For two decades, Cruz was the face and spirit of the Christmas Bureau of Austin and Travis County, a locally run charity that has helped hundreds of families and thousands of children in need.
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