EDINBURG Growing up, Edinburg Police Chief Rolando Castaneda recalls how his family's struggles instilled in him the importance of education and hard work for a better future.

Reaching out to the community in his first Christmas as Chief of Police, Castaneda says he hopes that the PD's 19th annual Blue Santa toy giveaway motivates children to one day give back to those less fortunate in the community.

"When I was growing up, my family was poor and I knew it (but) my parents instilled in me that education and hard work will pay off in the future," Chief Castaneda told a gathering of more than 1000 parents and 500 children, who huddled in line at Edinburg PD for the annual toy giveaway.

The event marked the first time that the Blue Santa Toy giveaway was held at the PD. Edinburg police officers were able to collect more than 2,000 toys through the efforts of the community and businesses including Walgreens Pharmacy, Bealls, Wal-Mart, Academy, Hygeia and Freedom Fitness, Castaneda said.

"We must teach our children that dreams do come true," Chief Castaneda said in his speech at the PD's Blue Santa Drive last week. "Let them realize that it's ok if they don't have everything. My hat goes off to the parents who are struggling to make ends meet. We hope this small gift will ease the stress this holiday season."

This year a partnership with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance resulted in the donation of $10,000 for the purchase of toys for needy children in the community. Edinburg police spent the holiday season giving away toys to children in Hidalgo County Head Start programs, Child Protective Services, local elementary schools, and the Rainbow Room, foster care program.

"I'm thankful to God for blessing us and bringing us all together to continuously support the efforts that are we are putting forth," the chief said at the Blue Santa drive last week. "This toy drive, with the assistance of the businesses and the citizens mentioned, will establish new memories for our children.