Officers, children shop for Christmas gifts in JamestownChristmas cheer took over the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center Sunday as children and law enforcement officials wrapped presents together as part of the Cops and Kids charity program.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Christmas cheer took over the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center Sunday as children and law enforcement officials wrapped presents together as part of the Cops and Kids charity program.
“It’s just nice to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. Some of them just don’t have presents at home,” said Darcy Anderson, an officer with the Jamestown Police Department.
Cops and Kids is a long-standing tradition in Jamestown that pairs children with law enforcement officials who take them out to eat, help them shop for Christmas presents for themselves and family members and then assist with wrapping the presents.
The program served 40 children this year, aided by 24 law enforcement officials from the Jamestown Police Department, Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol, Stutsman County Corrections Center and Ransom County Sheriff’s Office.
Each child had $75 from the program to spend on themselves and family members.
Connor Bjornland, 6, of Jamestown, was diligently searching the aisles at Kmart for a present for his aunt. Earlier, he’d chosen a present for himself, too — a Heroes Rescue play set full of emergency rescue personnel figurines.
“I want to drive this in the army,” he said, pointing to a Jeep-like toy.
Bjornland and Bella Banuelos, 8, were accompanied by Anderson on their shopping trip. Banuelos picked out a toy ice cream-making machine and a doll with brown hair — the same color as Banuelos’ hair.
Bjornland wanted to purchase Anderson a present, too.
Cpl. Bob Schlenvogt of the JPD was also offered a present by a generous child who wanted to share the candy he’d gotten from Santa.
“It’s a little hectic, chasing all the kids around, but it’s a blast,” Schlenvogt said. “I like to see the smiles on their faces when they just go crazy about everything in the store.”
Laney Banuelos, 11, was also focused on jewelry, though she hadn’t decided what to get for herself and what to get for her friends and family. She was accompanied by Scott Edinger of the JPD, who kept track of the money she had spent and what she had left.
The children chose a wide variety of presents for themselves and others, but electronics, particularly games for the Nintendo DS, were especially popular this year.
“I love taking the kids shopping,” said Teresa Martini, a reserve deputy with the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, as she wrapped a gift for Carrie Carter, 4, of Jamestown.
Carter had chosen a “My Own Laptop” toy for herself.
Funds for the charity project — totaling $3,300 this year — come from donations given by the public, either from individual contributions or from jars left out in businesses in town. The meal was provided by Pizza Ranch.
The event is organized by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 4, and has been going on since 1998, said Sgt. Tom Nagel of the JPD and president of the local FOP.
Law enforcement officials suggest families to join the program each year, and sometimes they get referrals, too. Either way, families have to fill out some forms and then go through a selection process. Children who have never participated in the program before get priority over children who have, Nagel said.
Cops and Kids helps give young people a positive image of law enforcement, and many of them recognize and remember the people who went shopping with them for years, Nagel said, thanking the law enforcement department heads that allow the project to continue.
“The money definitely is going for good use,” said Liz Kapp, a deputy with the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office and secretary of the local FOP.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
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