LEOs Bring Christmas Joy to Local Children
Local first responders always ensure that the communities they serve are safe from bad guys and harm’s away, but throughout the holiday season they take extra-special steps to ensure that local kids are guaranteed to have some extra Christmas joy.
Officers from New Martinsville Police Department, Paden City Police Department, and Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office gathered at Wal-Mart on Monday, Dec. 19 to assist some special kiddos with their Christmas shopping, as part of the local “Shop With A Cop” program. According to NMPD Chief Tim Cecil, each child received about $200 to spend. “We try to encourage them to buy their own things,” the chief said, but noted that sometimes kids also want to purchase items for their family members.
This is the sixth year for the program, and Cecil noted that it is a great feeling to help the kids. Yet, he said, “I think it is more for the police officers than the kids. The officers just really enjoy themselves with the kids,” he said.
Over 100 kids in the local area – including Wetzel, Tyler, and Monroe counties – were helped overall as a result of the communities’ “Shop With A Cop,” programs. The local Wal-Mart was packed on three separate occassions in December as local officers shopped with kids.
And meanwhile, the giving spirit carries on throughout the first responder family. NMPD Dispatchers Billie Zimmerman and Brittany Young noted that the officers have the “Shop With A Cop” program, yet the dispatcher duo wanted to play a part in placing a smile on local kids’ faces, such as the kids who might miss out on the “Shop With A Cop” program due to being “just above the qualifying factors.” The two girls created a Facebook page and worked to spread the word on their “A Calm Stocking Of Cheer” initiative. The duo asked for stocking stuffers and stockings for children in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth.
Through the dispatchers’, and the community’s, efforts, approximately 500 stockings were passed out to local youngsters.
Zimmerman said all four elementary schools received stockings, “some more than others, but all four benefitted.”
Amazingly, “every student received something,” Zimmerman said, “if not a stocking, a card with a gift certificate for a free slurpee, sundae, frosty, or taco.”
Donations from the community also provided a Christmas dinner and gifts to a family with two young boys. Also, “out of donations we received, that were too big to fit into stockings, we made four gift baskets that we distributed to the schools to assist with students they knew were in need,” Zimmerman said. Furthermore, five additional stockings, along with a few gifts, will be handed out by officers on Christmas Eve, while on patrol. Zimmerman hopes that this endeavor will “bring the morale toward police officers to a better outlook.”
Of the stocking program, Zimmerman said “We enjoyed doing it and were amazed at how appreciative those kids were.”
Zimmerman said her and Young hope to continue the program next year.