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Kids ‘N Cops Tradition Delivers Holiday Magic

Kids ‘N Cops Tradition Delivers Holiday Magic

‘Tis the season of giving, and one of the most beloved traditions in the Lakota community is the annual Kids ‘N Cops event. The heartwarming holiday program brings together West Chester organizations to help children and families in need.   

This year 35 students from Adena, Endeavor, Freedom, Union and Creekside were paired up with an officer to go on a $200 shopping spree at the Tylersville Meijer store.

It all begins back in October when West Chester Police Officer Jeff Newman, who serves as Lakota West’s School Resource Office (SRO), reaches out to Lakota schools in West Chester to gather names of students whose families could use a little help to make the holidays special.

“Calling the parents of the students is absolutely one of my favorite things,” Newman said. “The reactions I get are priceless, from crying tears of joy to screaming with excitement.”

Of course, the actual shopping with the students is also something everyone looks forward to. Kristin Nabors, Meijer’s Store Director, loves the partnership they have in place with the police department and looks forward to the event. The store donated $7000 in gift cards for the students.

Freedom’s SRO Gabe Staton has been part of the program for seven or eight years and says that “once you participate, you want to be part of the program every year.”

And it’s something that officers do on their own time. In addition to the West Chester Police Department, fellow officers from the UC Health Police Department took part this year.

As the students and officers were paired up, they began walking down the aisle getting to know each other a bit before the serious shopping began. Building relationships and making connections is an important part of the event.

The program originally was designed for students to be able to buy things for themselves, but that has had to change over the years. The students are so thoughtful, wanting to also use their gift cards to buy things for their siblings or parents.

One parent, whose wife is very sick this year, was so grateful that his daughter was selected for the program. His sixth grader was looking forward to buying something special for her mother. Another sixth grader was going to look for some makeup for herself and then spend the rest on toys for her siblings.

The toy aisles were very popular that evening, filled with officers and students stopping to look at all their options. As the shopping ended, carts loaded with soccer balls, televisions, bikes, toy cars and art supplies made their way to the checkout lane.

Families and volunteers were invited to a free dinner after shopping. “Several years ago, I heard about other programs offering a meal at the end, so area partners helped me make that happen,’ said Newman. The West Chester Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association coordinates the dinner and finds 7-8 area vendors to donate the food. “The dinner is such a nice way to cap off the event; we love having the opportunity to interact with the families.”