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Santa Claus had his share of helpers in uniform this holiday season.
Law enforcement agencies sponsored children through various local shop-with-a-cop outings, many of which saw record numbers of children come through the respective programs.
Kentucky State Police Post 4 exceeded $14,080 in purchases for more than 88 children during trips to Wal-Mart stores in Hillview and Leitchfield, spending roughly $150 on each child, according to Trooper Norman Chaffins, Post 4 spokesman.
Chaffins said donations and contributions from area businesses enabled KSP to make purchases of much-needed clothing and a few toys for the children.
Every shopping trip is unique, he said, recalling one child who was admiring a shopper’s custom made walking cane. When the man noticed, he approached the boy, who told him he would like to purchase his grandfather a similar cane for Christmas. The man left the store and went to his vehicle, where he returned with another cane he had made, presenting it as a gift to the child, Chaffins said.
“We at the KSP, too, often deal with the bad side of society. The child whose innocence is ripped away from them, families who have their peace of mind stripped by a burglar and lives that are cut short at the thoughtless hand of another,” said KSP Post 4 Detective John Vaughn in a written statement. “But for a few short hours every year, we are allowed to forget all the bad, and spend time with children from deserving families and help to make their Christmases a little better and brighter. Their smiles and laughter are thanks enough for us.”
In addition, KSP hosted its annual Cram the Cruiser program, in which it collects food items to give to local charities and churches. The program more than doubled last year’s donation of 3,500 pounds with 7,633 pounds collected.
Around the county, other shop-with-a-cop programs were organized by Local Fraternal Order of Police lodges in Radcliff and Elizabethtown, which partner with Hardin County Schools each year to provide gifts for children of low-income families.
FOP Lodge 39 shopped with roughly 70 children, about 10 more than last year, said Radcliff Police Department spokesman Bryce Shumate. Shumate said the lodge spent around $150 on each child and no one was turned away.
“We were able to take care of everyone who asked us for help,” Shumate said.
FOP Lodge 40 in Elizabethtown assisted 262 children in need this season, spending roughly $110 on each child for a total cost of approximately $28,000, said Elizabethtown Police Department Spokesman Virgil Willoughby.
Donations were down slightly this year but organizers expected as much. He thanked those who gave their time or money to help the lodge give the children a merry Christmas. He said it was the largest number of children served in a single year since the program launched nearly two decades ago, Willoughby said.
“It far exceeded everything we’ve done in years gone by,” he said.
Most of the money goes toward clothing, hygiene products and school supplies, but officers ensure each child receives a toy.
Vine Grove hosts its own Christmas for the Children program, which supplies local kids with clothing and toys.
Vine Grove Police Chief Kenny Mattingly said approximately 44 children were served by the program at an estimated cost of $13,000. The programs allocate about $250 for each child, $200 of which is set aside primarily for clothes while the remaining $50 is earmarked for toys, he said.
Mattingly said he was impressed by donors who donated and gave their time to see children reap the benefits.
“We had a good turnout and a good program,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.