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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Children get to shop with cops

  • Snow that blanketed the area Saturday morning did not stop local law enforcement officers from making sure local children got toys for Christmas this year.
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  • Snow that blanketed the area Saturday morning did not stop local law enforcement officers from making sure local children got toys for Christmas this year.
    Before daylight broke Saturday, law enforcement officers from almost every department in the county were awake and preparing their uniforms and duty gear.
    At 6:30 a.m. the officers assembled to receive their briefing, and by 7 a.m. the officers began their mission.
    It was time for them to take children shopping and show that “Cops Care.”
    Nearly 100 children from the various elementary schools in Phelps County were chosen by their teachers based on their families’ need to participate in the 2013 Cops Care program hosted by the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and Walmart.
    Each officer was provided a $75 gift card and was teamed up with one of the children to shop for anything the child desired for Christmas.
    Bicycles, dolls, games and clothing were among the many items purchased. About the only department at the Rolla Walmart that was “kid free” was the grocery section.
    The funds to support this venture were raised strictly by donations from businesses and individuals in Phelps County. Many churches and organizations elected to sponsor one or two children. Individual donations from $5 to $1,500 were received throughout the year.
    “Without each and every one of you choosing to become involved we could not continue this program,” Capt. Rick Hope, of the sheriff’s department, wrote in a news release. “A special thank you goes to the Home Town Santa program who provided for more than half the funds from a single fundraiser. This was a new group and elected to support us without being asked. They truly are a blessing in disguise.”
    The Home Town Santa program raised $3,700 for the Cops Care program this year.
    Hope noted that all too often children only see law enforcement officers when something negative is happening in their life.
    Cops Care is a program that started 22 years ago which allows children to see officers in a positive light.
    One child commented, “This is the best day in my whole life.”
    Three children played “rock, paper, scissors” to see who could go shopping with one officer.
    “Watching children’s eyes light up really makes my day,” the officer said.
    Lisenbe thanked the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri University of Science and Technology Police Department, Rolla, St. James, Doolittle and Newburg police departments and the family members of those officers for voluntarily assisting the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department in this endeavor.
    “In spite of the weather, these law enforcement officers volunteered their time in supporting the children of this county,” Lisenbe said. “Thank you for the support you provide to your communities.”

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