Cops & Kids: Giles F.O.P. Gives Back to Local Children
by Nathan Gomillion
As many of us sit comfortably in our brightly lit Christmas-colored living rooms with a decorated tree filled with ornaments and presents, there are many families who are not as blessed this year. Christmas can be tough, and many kids miss out on the things we take for granted during the holiday season.
For this reason, the Giles County Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge 94 went above and beyond their calling to host the eighth annual “Cops and Kids” event.
The day started early with the group of 31 boys and girls gathering at the Giles County Sheriff’s Department to receive a brand new T-shirt, comically picturing a detained Grinch. The kids were then partnered off with deputies, troopers, police, game wardens, retired law enforcement, community leaders and volunteers to guide them through the event. The kids were loaded onto a bus and escorted to Wal-Mart.
The officers and volunteers met their kids with an empty buggy and gave their child the challenge of a lifetime — filling it. With nothing stopping them but a $250 limit, boys and girls grabbed their supervisors and took off running toward the toy aisle. Like something straight out of a Wal-Mart employee’s nightmare, children quickly darted down aisles picking up foam swords, dolls, games, balls, etc., and throwing them inside the cart, not paying the slightest attention to how much money they were accumulating. Law enforcement officers relived their youth, playing games and helping the children choose between the seemingly endless rows of toys at their disposal.
Many kids used the opportunity to pass on the act of kindness by including items for their friends and family. Others grabbed a few select items off the shelf and were content with what they had. In several situations, the volunteers bestowed one last act of kindness by personally buying an item for their kid after previously going over budget.
Presents tested elasticity as they were loaded into large black garbage bags and carried to the Sheriff Department’s SWAT bus. Children, antsy with Christmas anticipation and sugar, were taken over to the Southside Elementary School campus to eat hamburgers, chips and cookies and then released into the gymnasium for the much-needed opportunity to burn off some energy. During this time, the adults unbagged all of the toys to be individually wrapped and decorated with brightly colored paper and bows.
The day was not, however, over yet. Each child was hoisted onto Santa’s lap to quickly meet the North Pole celebrity and take a picture for proof.
As parents came to pick up their high-strung children, their cars were filled with bags of presents, food and a brand new bike for every child.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of the community,” F.O.P. President Scott Nations said. “Without the contributions, we could not make this happen.”