CRESTVIEW — Almost 250 local kids are going to have a brighter Christmas thanks to Santa’s elves in blue.
Friday morning, Crestview Police Community Services Officers Wanda Hulion and Sam Kimmons directed a small army of shoppers who fanned out in the Crestview Walmart to buy toys for the Police Department’s Cops For Kids program.
Volunteers included members of the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni group (which also administered the program’s fundraising efforts), police officers and Crestview City Clerk Betsy Roy.
Thanks to the employees of Allen Turner Chevrolet, who made voluntary deductions from their paychecks, Cops for Kids received a $15,367 gift last month. The extra money made it possible to serve more kids, and to buy more presents per child than in previous years.
Additionally, gifts of toys and cash from businesses, including Edward Jones financial adviser Yvonne Shanklin, allowed the Police Department to provide toys for more children.
“People have been real generous this year,” Officer Kimmons said.
“These young’uns are going to be very happy Christmas morning.”
Officer Hulion said the reasons residents request assistance from Cops For Kids vary, including incapacitated parents, single parents on low incomes, families that recently moved to the area and have minimal financial resources, and even grandparents raising their children’s children.
“People have good attitudes this year,” Hulion said, “even the people we have to say ‘no’ to.”
Some applicants were disqualified for having received assistance from the program last year or receiving assistance from another program, the officers said.
“We don’t allow double-dipping,” Kimmons said. “That’s not fair to other families.”
In all, the Cops For Kids volunteers spent nearly $10,000 to buy more than 800 gifts Friday morning, filling more than 25 shopping carts that required two check-out lanes to process.
“This is just wonderful to see,” said shopper Marge Valdez of the Cops For Kids contingent. “We appreciate everything our police officers do, but this is especially nice.”
Most funds not used this year will remain in the CCPAA’s Cops For Kids account and will be carried over for future toy shopping, while some will go toward the annual CCPAA Toy Run, in which toys are distributed in low-income housing neighborhoods shortly before Christmas.
“We just love giving back to our community,” Hulion said. “We sometimes have to deal with negative things. We look forward to doing this positive event.”
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