Cops and Kids

Sisters Colbie and Kaia Hieb eagerly waited to take a picture with Santa Claus in Wal-Mart's Garden Center before scouring the store to find $75 worth of Christmas goodies Sunday afternoon.The sisters were paired with Lennell Smith, a correctiona...

Brian Swiontek, correctional officer with the James River Correctional Center, watches as the child he was paired with for the annual Cops and Kids event fills out a nametag for a gift he purchased Sunday at Wal-Mart for Christmas. Alexandria Cremer | THE SUN

Sisters Colbie and Kaia Hieb eagerly waited to take a picture with Santa Claus in Wal-Mart’s Garden Center before scouring the store to find $75 worth of Christmas goodies Sunday afternoon.
The sisters were paired with Lennell Smith, a correctional center officer from the James River Correctional Center, and Lt. John Gletne, Jamestown Police Department, for the Cops and Kids event in Jamestown.
Cops and Kids is an annual event where underprivileged children get to mark items off their Christmas list while shopping with a law enforcement official.
Representatives from the Jamestown Police Department, Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol, James River Correctional Center, Stutsman County Correctional Center, Stutsman County Reserve deputies, Foster County Sheriff’s Department, Wal-Mart and other members of the community who volunteered to wrap presents all contributed to this event.
This year, a record-breaking number of 41 children were able to participate, said Elizabeth Kapp, coordinator for the event, sergeant-at-arms of the Fraternal Order Of Police Jamestown Lodge, and Stutsman County deputy. Last year 27 children participated.
“We want them (the children) to see a kinder side of law enforcement,” Kapp said.
This year was the first year the children also received a reusable shopping bag filled with canned chicken, canned vegetables, instant milk, fruit snacks, macaroni and cheese, candy canes, water and other non-perishable food items, all donated by Wal-Mart.
“I feel great that the kids can come in here and get toys, but after doing this for so many years I thought, what else can we do as a store?” said Tim Curtis, store manager of Wal-Mart. “So this was our vision, to send them home with a meal as well.”
The event is hosted for children to buy presents for themselves, but some children, such as 7-year-old Seth Guthmiller, bought presents for their siblings or parents as well.
Guthmiller, accompanied by Jason Prochnow, officer for the Jamestown Police Department, bought his brother Ninja Turtle figurines, and said his favorite gift for himself was a motorcycle toy. He said he is excited for Christmas.
Keira Vaugh, who was shopping with Sarena Ebel, human relations counselor at JRCC, ended up with clothes, athletic shoes, a Barbie doll for her sister and a few other items. Vaugh was most excited about her shoes, and said she will be eagerly awaiting Christmas Day to wear them.
Nellie Degen, liaison for the Fraternal Order of Police in Jamestown, said her favorite part of the event is seeing the kids comes through the store doors with their eyes lit up and gifts in their hands.
“It reminds you of how fortunate you are,” Degen said.
Mitch Seibel, sergeant at the JRCC, helped organize a wiffle-ball tournament and a bean-bag toss tournament with Jody Larson, lieutenant at JRCC, to raise funds for the event this year.
Collectively, the tournaments raised about $2,000, Seibel said.
The Fraternal Order of Police in Jamestown also hosts events yearly to raise funds to for this event and others of its kind, including music clubs and youth programs.
Children ages 5 to 12 are selected through social services or members of the community who speak with Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center representatives about prospective participants, including teachers, officers, parents and others, Kapp said.
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