Police officers across the community are joining forces and giving back to children in need. Every year, the Murray Police, Paducah Police and Kentucky State Troopers hold unique events with a common goal: to help needy families during the holidays while building positive relationships between local law enforcement and families who rarely see law enforcement in a positive light.
“Unfortunately, we see these kids in their worst times so this is a great way to have fun and give back to them,” says Andrew Wiggins, secretary of the Murray FOP Lodge 23.
The Murray and Paducah police force along with the Kentucky State Troopers hold unique events allowing children in need to purchase gifts of their choice and to provide groceries for each child’s family. The police officers and state troopers solicit for donations year long for the events that rely largely on donations. The children are selected by the schools closest to each police station and state trooper post based on their level of need.
“Some of the families make too much money to qualify for benefits and government help, but too little to get by. These are often the families that need our help the most,” says Steve Balentine, Paducah City Police assistant district supervisor of that Paducah FOP District 1.
Each event sparks joy and excitement in each child chosen to participate. While each vary in the daily activities, all of the officers and state troopers at each event take the children and their families shopping and give them an allotted budget while providing a hot meal and Christmas spirit.
“A lot of times we see the kids spend money on things we take for granted. Especially the older kids who will purchase soap, shampoo and other things they need. It’s humbling,” says Gary Fraser, Kentucky State Police Professional Association Chapter 1 President.
The unique events were founded when the police forces and the state troopers saw a need in their communities. For most of the hosts, this is their biggest event of the year. Anywhere between 50-70 children participate in each event in addition to their family members. The amount of spending money allotted to each child and family depends on how much money is raised during the year by the police offers and state troopers. The Paducah police department alone plans on donating upwards of $12,000 for the children and families to purchase the gifts and groceries they choose. Food and transportation donated by business donors.
Every year, the Christmas events held by police officers and state troopers make a lasting impact on the children and families they help.
“Sometimes I will see the kids from our Santa, Cops and Kids event on calls. It’s a way to strike up a conversation and build rapport and puts them at ease. We can always go back and talk about the good times we shared picking out gifts and talk about a happier time during a difficult situation, says Andrew Wiggins, secretary of the Murray FOP Lodge 23.
Donations can be sent to the following police and state trooper posts:
City of Murray Police Department: Santa, Cops, and Kids
PO Box 992, Murray, KY 42001
City of Paducah Police Department: Christmas Cops Program
1400 Broadway St, Paducah, KY 42001
Kentucky State Police: KSP Shop with a Trooper
8366 State Route 45 N, Hickory, KY 42051