When Heflin K9 police officer Danny Turner got home Saturday night his wife, Kaylie, said someone on Facebook was looking for used toys for a 2-year-old girl who was not going to get a visit from Santa this year.
Turner’s 4-year-old daughter, Brylee, said she wanted to donate some of her surplus toys to the girl.
It was, after all, Christmas weekend — Turner said he and his family had a pretty good year and wanted to step up to help the girl. Turner took out his phone and made a Facebook post asking his friends to help out the girl Saturday night. Turner went to work in Heflin early Sunday morning and the responses started coming in.
“My phone started going off — people that I knew wanting to help with the cause,” Turner said.
Within hours money started to pile up — money from Turner and his family, friends and associates — $500 in four hours.
“I had people chasing me down while I was at work; following me around town to give more money,” Turner said.
“We got to a point where we had enough,” Turner said.
Turner gave the money to his wife for a Christmas shopping trip in Oxford — soon she returned to the police station with a Santa’s bag worth of toys. When the girl’s mother came to pick up the toys on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m., Turner said she was ecstatic.
Turner said the mother broke down and called Turner and his family “angels.”
The toddler received books, stuffed animals, clothes, toys and dolls.
The only thing Turner requested from the mother was simple — a photograph of the girl on Christmas morning — Turner received the photo from the mother via a text on Christmas day which captured a classic Christmas scene.
“That little girl was — it was like a state of shock — the child looked overwhelmed like ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe all of this is mine,’” Turner said.
Turner was overjoyed that he was able to help the girl.
“You can’t express the feeling. Everybody has a hard time in their lives — I just like to help somebody out of it,” Turner said.
Since the last-minute response from his friends was so generous, Turner hopes to do more next Christmas.
“We want to get out and touch more families next year; organize it it a little bit more,” Turner said.
With expectations surpassed Turner hopes to attach the police department to the toy drive to serve more families in Cleburne County. Turner referred to a national fundraiser called Shop With A Cop that serves underserved youth that he hopes to have in place by next Christmas.
As for Turner, he received more than the satisfaction of helping to make Christmas possible for a child.
“I’ve made a new friend,” he said.