Operation sleigh ride: NYPD delivers gifts throughout NYC

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The NYPD delivered toys to various communities throughout New York City for Operation Sleigh Ride.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York City’s finest took the reins from Santa Claus this Christmas week to bring toys and holiday cheer during their sleigh ride throughout the five boroughs. 

While Father Christmas may have his red sleigh with reindeer, the NYPD had their sirens and a fleet of trucks and motorcycles filled with toys to bring joy to children in need since Dec. 17. On their very last day of distributing gifts, the NYPD had a very special helper during their final journey, a little boy named Jefferson. 

Seven-year-old Jefferson was the top cop of operation sleigh ride. Photo by Dean Moses

When Jefferson was two years old in his hometown in Ecuador, he placed his hand into a cookie crusher, resulting in his arm being amputated. Now at seven years old, Jefferson’s family resides in Queens. A good Samaritan discovered the little boy’s plight and donated money so that he could be fitted for a prosthetic arm. Earlier this month, he received his new arm and garnered support from the NYPD. 

The last day of operation sleigh ride. Photo by Dean Moses
The last day of operation sleigh ride. Photo by Dean Moses

Jefferson shared that he dreams of becoming a police officer when he grows up—so the NYPD deputized him with a badge and made him the top cop in their festive effort to bring holiday cheer to children throughout the city, which includes delivering up to 4,500 toys in one day. 

Spider-Man rode atop an NYPD truck in Harlem. Photo by Dean Moses
Spider-Man and the NYPD La Jara Band. Photo by Dean Moses

“Today is our third day of operation sleigh ride. It’s Chief Maddrey’s of Community Affairs signature piece. It’s how we bring cheer and toys out to the communities throughout the city that are in need,” said Inspector Max Tolentino, the Executive Officer of Community Affairs. 

Tolentino shared his awe of this project and the sight of pure joy on all of the children’s faces when they see the officers bringing sacks of gifts, which were donated by the New York City Police Foundation, First Responders Children’s Foundation, and basic donations from everyday people. 

“You have to see the faces of some of the kids that are out there. They are absolutely impressed, and they absolutely enjoy the moment, and so do we. At the end of the day, it is just about the spirit of the holiday and what better way than to go to a neighborhood where a kid has an opportunity to get a toy for Christmas,” Tolentino said.

The streets of Manhattan echoed festive holiday music by the NYPD La Jara Band. Photo by Dean Moses
Children in the Harlem community were ecstatic to see the NYPD deliver presents. Photo by Dean Moses
Santa Claus posed with residents. Photo by Dean Moses

Taking flight at JFK airport on Dec. 20, a convoy of police vehicles stocked up on gifts and prepared to distribute it for the final day of operation sleigh ride, starting with 306 West 128th Street in Harlem where costumed superheroes jumped out of the trucks to surprise the children. 

Captain America, Black Panther, Shazam, the Incredible Hulk and more met with the community, where they all cheered the NYPD as the toys were dispersed. Spider-Man even climbed atop the roof of a NYPD truck as they rode to their next delivery location in Harlem.

Members of the NYPD donned blue Santa hats. Photo by Dean Moses
This little boy was excited to receive a basketball. Photo by Dean Moses

“The NYPD brought the whole community together! Look at the people coming out! NYPD is the best, and I want to thank Chief Maddrey! Look at Spiderman,” Jacqui said, a local Harlem resident as she watched the event unfold, “People can’t afford this today. It’s very hard to go to the store to buy gifts. NYPD is stepping it up. They know the community needs toys.”

On the final day of distribution, the NYPD estimated about 75,000 toys will have been distributed to children throughout New York City.

The NYPD estimates about 75,000 toys will have been distributed over the course of operation sleigh ride. Photo by Dean Moses
Incredible hugs from the hulk. Photo by Dean Moses
Everyone was excited to get free toys.Photo by Dean Moses
Children hugged Santa Claus. Photo by Dean Moses