NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro Nashville Police Department carried out a long-standing tradition of giving back to the community on the morning of Christmas Eve.

For the 62nd year in a row, officers got up bright and early to deliver gifts of food and toys to families in need as a part of the police department’s annual Christmas Basket Outreach Program.

This year, police served a record 397 families, including more than 200 households with kids and 140 elderly residents. Officers began loading up their cars at 6 a.m. to make deliveries across Davidson County.

Midtown Hills Precinct Commander Dayton Wheeler, who was this year’s “Chief Elf” of the Christmas basket program, said each family receives enough food to get them through about two weeks. Officers also stuff baskets full of toys for the homes with children.

The Christmas basket program was started by late Metro Nashville police chief Joe Casey in 1961 when he delivered baskets to two families. The idea gained community support and has grown every year.

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County

For current Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake, the event is more than just a part of the job.

“When I was a kid, my father was blind, my mom was disabled, and I was one of these kids that got Christmas baskets,” Drake said. “So, who is the next police chief or the next doctor or whatever that’s out there getting this joy and getting to interact with the police officers?”