CARTHAGE, Mo. — Today marks 47 years of an annual tradition that brings gifts to local children.

It’s the “Laverne Williams Children’s Christmas Party”.

It’s in memory of a law enforcement officer who had a big heart for the children in his community.

He started this event nearly 50 years ago as a juvenile officer for the “Carthage Police Department”.

This year’s party saw over 60 kids receiving toys thanks to community donations.

Carthage Junior High leadership students worked with police officers to make it all happen.

“It means a lot to me, again because I worked with LaVerne, but it’s also a great thing that I think that we as the police department can do for this community, and we just like helping,” said Bill Hawkins, Carthage Police Chief.

“It’s also good to have the police officers here, we appreciate them helping. That way, the children know these police officers are a friend,” said Cheryle Finley, Laverne Williams Christmas Party Committee.

Santa even made it to the party, but so did the Grinch, who was eyeing up those presents.

Luckily though, Carthage Police Officers were there to make sure Christmas wasn’t stolen this year.