HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -

Santa Claus had plenty of helpers when he delivered presents to patients at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood.

About a dozen officers from the Miramar Police Department handed out gifts on Monday. The tradition began three years ago when officer Carlos Villalona's daughter was hospitalized.

"There were many dark days for me and my family here. I spent Christmas Day in the hospital, but I do remember that there were people, even people I did not know, that took the time and came and put a smile on my daughter's face," said Villalona.

Villalona's daughter died, but her spirit lives on through him and his fellow officers.

The off-duty officers passed out about one thousand dollars worth of toys. They bought the toys and wrapped them.

"It really makes me feel great that people really care about how others feel," said Caroline Burt, who is undergoing treatment at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. "They could be spending time with their families but they are compassionate and they see how we are spending our Christmas and they want to make it better."

"It makes me feel appreciated and not forgotten," said Gio Jean-Louis.

"It makes me happy that people think of me," said Jasmyn Brown, who has been in the hospital since March..

"You think that when things are so bad that you can't smile, that you are always sad, but coming here, like the policemen came, you saw Jasmyn smile? What a gift," said Iva Brown, Jasmyn's grandmother.