Officer Chris Bell (center) stands in line with children participating in the annual Cops and Kids event, held on Dec. 14 at Walmart.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Patrick Henry Lodge No. 73, received a $3,500 grant from the Harvest Youth Board to serve 68 children in the Cops and Kids program this year.
Walmart hosts more than 50 active and retired members of law enforcement annually who go shopping with a child for Christmas gifts. Harvest Youth Board Member Madison Ross said she appreciates the work that goes into making sure participants have a special Christmas.
“I think that giving kids of all ages a chance to pick out gifts is so thoughtful,” she said. “A few members of the board had mentioned that these kids often pick out presents for others before they even think of themselves. It touches me that even though these kids may be less fortunate than others, they remain selfless. I love absolutely everything about the Cops for Kids grant, and I’m so glad that we chose to fund it and make these kids’ Christmases special.”
Board member Finley Underwood added, “One reason I love this grant is because I get to see the smile on the kids’ faces when they get to pick out whatever they want for Christmas. It’s also special to see the relationship developing between the youth and the police officers that help them pick out toys. We are very fortunate to be able to provide such a wonderful experience to the community.”
Lt. Ben Peters of the Martinsville Police Department, treasurer of the FOP, said they’ve been doing the program in Martinsville-Henry County for more than 15 years.
“Usually when we get a call, it’s because of a negative situation – whether it’s a disturbance or another situation,” he said. “Being able to come out in a positive light and see the smiles on all the kids’ faces is great. The kids are able to see that we’re people just like them and that we’re here to help.”
FOP President Danny Wimmer said as part of the national Fraternal Order of Police organization, they have a duty to give back to the community.
“We’re trying to do our part as a FOP to help our community,” he said. “One of the best ways we do that is through the Cops and Kids program and providing for Christmas for children.”
Jacob Tisdale, treasurer of the Harvest Youth Board, said he was excited to be able to continue the relationship with the Fraternal Order of Police.
“Strengthening the relationship between the youth and law enforcement is vital and getting to do so while also providing a great Christmas experience for local kids is an amazing opportunity,” Tisdale said. “We are very lucky we get to be hands-on with this grant and truly see the impact that we are making personally as well.”