“Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue, wrap your presents to your darling from you…”
Those lyrics to a famous Christmas song first recorded by legendary country singer Willie Nelson then re-recorded a half-dozen years later by Roy Orbison could have easily been the theme for last Thursday night’s annual Johnston Explorers Wrapping Party.
For starters, the Chief Katherine Rocha led Explorers Post 405, which is made up of youngsters ages 14 to 20 who have expressed pursuing a career in law enforcement, upheld the storied tradition of wrapping hundreds of toys, games, and more. that on Saturday and Sunday were distributed confidentially to children of families in need.
There were also several other special stories during the Explorers Wrapping Party that transformed the Johnston Senior Center’s multi-purpose room into Santa’s North Pole workshop.
Perhaps visions of sugar plums did indeed dance through the heads of the night’s youngest wrappers, the children from Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop 20 from St. Robert Bellarmine Roman Catholic Church and their many proud parents.
In the middle of it all was Santa Claus, who turned in an extraordinary effort in making sure he listened and made it special for every girl and boy who sat on Jolly Old Saint Nick’s lap.
The visit with Santa Claus, while sitting in a huge chair in one of several JSC’s well-decorated Christmas Trees, was followed by a special ceremony Major Thomas H. Dolan – the Explorers coordinator – held to honor the extraordinary service to Post 405 Chief Rocha.
“I didn’t want to shorten the fun he was having with all the scouts; who could some day become members of the Johnston Police Explorers,” said Major Dolan.
So, after almost all of the night’s pizza was eaten and there were few, if any, chocolate chip cookies left on a huge table, Dolan issued a command of sorts for everyone inside the JSC to assemble in front of a Christmas tree.
“It is with great pleasure that I present this plaque to Explorer Chief Katherine L. Rocha in recognition of her seven years of dedicated and faithful service to the Johnston Police Department’s Police Explorer Program,” said. “Chief Rocha has been an Explorer from 2011 though tonight.”
Also, she has been Post 405 Chief the past two years and during her time in that capacity has been nothing less than dependable, trustworthy and her selfless service enabled members of Explorer Post 405 to win many first and second place awards when competing with other units throughout the state.
As the Explorers were performing yet another of their endless chores – cleaning up and re-arranging tables and chairs inside the JSC – Dolan said: “Tonight was again special; hopefully, due to the toy program some little faces will have some big smiles on them Christmas morning this year.”
Earlier this week, Dolan reported that Saturday and Sunday’s toy distribution “had excellent results and we thank each and every person that donated a toy, that will make Christmas merry for children who otherwise might not have had a visit from Santa Claus.”