The "Comida Food Drive" is a collection effort by the Houston Police Department. Coupled with 14 participating Fiesta grocery stores and a local Pepsi bottler, police officers and volunteers will be collecting donated food from the stores beginning Thursday.
Officer Al Baker says it's almost hard to believe it began in December 1985.
"I remember the first year that JD Dominguez started this with another officer, Richard Cruz. And it worked real hard and it was the first time that they had done it. They did a real good job the first year, and then after that it just took off and as you see, we're still doing it and we're still helping people, and every year we help more and more people, and we get more and more involved in the community. I think that was JD Dominguez's dream. I don't even think he realized the scope of his dream."
He says the effort gives the officers a chance to do more than uphold the law.
"There's a lot of people struggling at this time of year, the officers see it. They see it when they run calls and so, this takes them away from that for just a few minutes, and helps them feel better about what they do."
Houston Councilmember and former HPD officer Ed Gonzalez says that first year, enough non-perishable food was collected to provide meals for 600 families during the Christmas holidays.
"Over the years, the food drive continues to be a support that many inner city families depend on during the holidays. The goal for the 2012 Comida Food Drive is to exceed last year's efforts, and feed over 3500 families during the holiday season."
Assistant Chief Tim Oettmeier says the effort shows how officers help protect citizens in good times and bad.
"We're not the only organization in our community that's stepping out to help folks especially during the holiday time, when it's always a special time. So, anything we can do above and beyond our normal responsibilities to help folks in need, we enjoy doing that."
The donated food will be sorted and donated to churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, each of which then takes it to people who need it.
Last year, the effort raised more than $48,000 dollars to buy food. Information on the stores involved in the HPD's annual Comida Food Drive can be found at www.houstonpolice.org.