By Dustin Shipman
Area police officers want to make the holidays happier for area children with their annual Shop With a Cop programs.
“Every year, Joplin police officers take a group of carefully selected children in need to local stores in Joplin to spend a predetermined amount of money on Christmas gifts,” said Cpl. Ed Gilbert, president of the Joplin Fraternal Order of Police. “This is an opportunity for police officers to spend quality time, build relationships of trust and to help our youth understand that police officers are normal people in their community, and their friends as well. This is a wonderful charitable opportunity.”
Last year, Joplin police officers spent time with 50 children. The officers shopped with them for Christmas gifts. The FOP itself contributed $5,000 to the program.
“We welcome any outside donations, both individual or corporate, to help make this event larger and more memorable for those who can participate,” Gilbert said.
The date for the Joplin Shop With a Cop event has not been announced.
The Webb City and Carl Junction police departments will have similar programs.
Webb City will stage its event on Dec. 1 at the Webb City Wal-Mart. Besides money that can be spent on Christmas gifts, selected families also receive a food basket of items donated by businesses and vendors.
Carl Junction officers and program participants will be visiting the Wal-Mart at 15th Street and Range Line Road on Dec. 15.
Delmar Haase, Carl Junction police chief, said the children and the officers look forward to the Shop With a Cop program each year.
“We have been increasing our numbers each year. Last year, we had 144 kids,” Haase said. “We are hoping for a good turnout this year as well. We have had kids from Cherokee County (Kan.), Newton County and Jasper County sign up. They all have a lot of fun. We bring in new people each year, and they all have a great time with it.
“We deal a lot with disadvantaged and victim kids, and kids occupy a special place in the policemen’s hearts. When they have the chance to do something to help them, they always enjoy it.”
Want to help?
n Joplin: Donations may be made at the front desk of the Joplin Police Department by dropping off sealed cash and checks in envelopes addressed to Joplin Fraternal Order of Police, Shop With a Cop Program. Checks should be made out to Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 27. Details: Cpl. Ed Gilbert, (417) 623-3131, ext. 637, or email@example.com.
n Webb City: Donations may be dropped off at the station or mailed to Shop With a Cop, Webb City Police Department, 211 W. Broadway, Webb City, MO 64870, or to Shop With a Cop, Dr. William Rice, 1601 S. Madison St., Webb City, MO 64870. Checks should be made payable to Webb City Shop With a Cop and the Webb City Police Department.
n Carl Junction: Donations may can be arranged by contacting the department at (417) 649-7070.
By Dustin Shipman
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