Spirit of JacksonvilleREAD ONLINE
Cabot officers to play the role of Santa for toy patrolPublished November 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
CABOT — Members of the Cabot Police Department may look the same this year as Christmas draws near, but they’ll be playing a role more suited to appearing in red fir-trimmed outfits and hats.
The officers will play the role of Santa Claus for children in the Cabot area on Dec. 17.
Cabot Officers Playing Santa, or COPS Toy Patrol, in its second year, involves officers going with two children from Cabot’s nine elementary schools to choose gifts at the local Walmart.
Sgt. Keith Graham of the Police Department said donations are given to the program from various city organizations and residents of the Cabot community.
“Last year we were able to have the school counselors pick out 18 children in need of extra help so they will have a good Christmas,” he said.
In addition to the school counselors, teachers also might know kids in their classes who would benefit from the program, said Tina Frost, the Cabot Police Department’s chaplain.
In December last year, Graham said, the children came to Walmart, where they were paired up with a police officer, and they went shopping for three gifts.
“They are able to buy one gift for somebody else, one for themselves — something they need, like shoes or clothes — and a third for anything they want,” Graham said.
The selflessness of the children who were helped last year took Graham by surprise.
“A lot of the kids didn’t buy anything for themselves, but they bought stuff for other people in their families,” he said. “One kid last year, all he wanted to do was buy something for his sister. These kids have a lot of giving in their hearts.”
Graham said the department is looking to collect $4,000 in donations to go toward COPS, and if the goal is met, more children will have the chance to benefit from the program.
Two children from each of the nine elementary schools were chosen by school counselors last year, and Graham is hoping the program grows this year.
“I love being able to see the kids have a good Christmas,” he said. “When they are able to shop with an officer, that breaks down the wall between officers and citizens.”
Frost said she helped the officers develop the program last Christmas.
“The officers mentioned it to me and asked if we could get a program here in Cabot,” she said.
After last year’s success with COPS, Graham said, he can’t wait to see the reactions of the children who benefit from it this Christmas.
“Every single kid had a huge smile on their face,” Graham said.
To donate to the COPS Toy Patrol, email Chaplain Frost at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the COPS Toy Patrol Facebook page at www.facebook.com/copstoypatrol.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or email@example.com.
Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-399-3664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.