Cops, Kids Share Special Day
by Nathan Gomillion
The spirit of giving has arrived in Giles County after the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge 94 gathered children from around the county for the ninth annual Cops and Kids event.
During Cops and Kids, 30 deserving children were partnered with deputies, troopers, police, game wardens, retired law enforcement, community leaders and volunteers to shop for everything on their Christmas lists. With nothing stopping them but a $250 limit, kids were given cookies and then released into the Pulaski Wal-Mart to utilize their newfound sugar high.
Shopping carts filled up quickly as kids grabbed toys, games, candy, clothes and electronics until their items began spilling over the top. Many of the children decided to use the opportunity to pass along the kindness by buying presents for their families and friends.
The most difficult part of the day for the kids was the decision over what to keep and what to put back in order to stay under budget. Even law enforcement members and volunteers found their inner child as they debated with their kids on which toys or stuffed animal was the best choice.
It was all hands on deck at the end of the shopping spree as the volunteers checked out and bagged the countless gifts while the kids waited anxiously, eager to play with their new bounty. When all items were scanned, the final receipt revealed a total of just over $10,000. After everything was tagged and bagged, the kids loaded on the bus and got the full VIP experience as law enforcement vehicles turned on their lights and sirens to escort them to Southside Elementary School.
At Southside, the volunteers unloaded the bags of presents and carefully wrapped each individual item as the kids ate lunch. Once everything was wrapped, it was time for the final phase of the Cops and Kids experience — meeting Santa.
The Sheriff’s Department was buzzing with life as kids lined up to meet Santa and parents lined up to claim their children. After each kid met with Santa, they were in for one last surprise. Each child was given a bicycle and a large sack of food containing a hefty Christmas dinner of ham, potatoes, bread, cake, yams, beans, sweet tea and more for their families.
The endless philanthropy was received well by the families, and is not the first time law enforcement went above and beyond.
“Three years ago, we took an individual Christmas shopping,” F.O.P. President Scott Nations said. “His officer noticed that he wasn’t happy, and they interacted with him to figure out what was going on. He told the officer that he didn’t have a Christmas tree. So we gave him ours. Loaded it up in a SWAT bus and carried it to his house.”
Law enforcement are not the only ones contributing to the event. Citizens and organizations come from around Giles County to give their time, resources and financial support to the event.
“Everyone came together to make this happen,” Nations continued. “Without the community contributions, without fund-raisers, without local businesses and people coming together, donating money, none of this would be possible. This is an opportunity for law enforcement in this county to give back to the community, and to help positively impact the youth.
“This has been a dream of ours,” Nations concluded. “We were able to start Cops and Kids nine years ago, and it has grown since then to the point where we can help up to 30 kids. No matter their age, race or religion, we’re showing them that we’re here for them.”