NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Nashville police officers brought Christmas joy to families in Nashville Friday.

MNPD officers met at the department’s Christmas Charities Program headquarters in the West Precinct on the morning of Christmas Eve. They gathered food and toys and the gifts were delivered to a record 391 family units, including 200 households with kids.

“Officers answering calls for service throughout the year find families in need. It could be financial distress. It could be a family member that has been a victim of violent crime and they nominate them for our services,” said MNPD Inspector Harmon “Chief Elf” Hunsicker.

The Christmas basket program served 1,300 people, including 830 kids.

“It’s unique because all of these were nominated by our police officers and our personnel letting us know there’s a family in need. We call these folks and say, ‘Hey, you’ve been selected. Tell us about your children. What are they into? What are they like?’ They start telling us what kind of toys they like and that’s what these baskets are filled with – toys their kids like. So this isn’t a big thrown together mix of toys; it’s custom-built for each family,” Hunsicker said.

Retired MNPD Chief Joe Casey, 95, also joined current Chief John Drake at Christmas Basket headquarters Friday morning and made the first delivery of the day. Chief Casey began the tradition as a sergeant in 1961.

Retired Chief Casey and Chief Drake (Courtesy: MNPD)

“He decided that instead of exchanging cards and gifts with his coworker, they’d pool their money together and go out and help a family that needed food and that’s how the program started,” Hunsicker said.

For the first time this year, they’re also helping out pets, including 66 dogs, 25 cats, and three rabbits.