APD, AFD chiefs participate in Operation Blue Santa shopping spree
Austin’s police and fire chiefs lace up their tennis shoes to shop for a good cause Tuesday.
Police Chief Brian Manley and Austin Fire Chief Joel Baker teamed up for a two-minute shopping spree at Costco to grab as many gifts as possible worth up to $10,000 in support of the Operation Blue Santa program.
This is the sixth year in a row that RetailMeNot has partnered with Operation Blue Santa to fund the shopping spree.
It was only his second day on the job, but Austin’s new fire chief came prepared for the mission. “I already started loosening up last night. I have the reach, I have the stretch,” Baker said standing at 6’6.
All the items they snag are donated by RetailMeNot then auctioned off at the Blue Santa Breakfast. That money is then used to buy gifts for Austin families in need.
“This year we're expecting to serve up to 4,500 families which means we'll reach between 15 and 20,000 children,” Manley said.
It’s Chief Manley’s fifth year participating. He learned early on that his uniform dress shoes don't give him the speed he needs. “I always change into my running shoes,” Manley said.
No one told Chief Baker about that little secret, but as luck would have it, Cotter Cunningham, the CEO of RetailMeNot, just happens to wear a size 15 shoe.
Baker and Manley laced up their running shoes and after a quick stretch they were off to the races. The crowd cheered them on. With only two minutes on the clock, the pair went straight to the electronics section for the big-ticket items.
Two iRobot Roombas, a sound system and a Vitamix to start. Then, they sprinted down the main aisle adding a few more kitchen gadgets and gaming systems to the cart.
With only 60 seconds left on the clock they sprinted to the finish line with two carts full of items.
The chiefs' final total was $5,153. All of the merchandise will be auctioned off to benefit Operation Blue Santa.