It's an annual event that has helped children and their families kick off the new school year with a little less stress -- Operation Safe Return.

Kiii-TV was among many sponsors who made it happen, and on Thursday all of them were honored by the event's organizers at the Corpus Christi Police Department.

"If we don't invest in the youth, what do you expect when they are older? We try and stop it when it's young potential for crime, and try to steer folks in the right direction and let them know that their police department and community cares about them," CCPD Chief Mike Markle said. "And events like this do exactly that."

Thousands of people showed up this year to take advantage of Operation Safe Return, which is always a free event.

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