For the fifth consecutive year, the Cabot Police Department is making Christmas a bit more special for some students in the Cabot School District.
The Cabot Officers Playing Santa Toy Patrol — or C.O.P.S. Toy Patrol — is centered around providing Christmas gifts to children in need.
Capt. Brent Lucas of the Cabot Police Department said the program is similar to the popular Shop With a Cop program found across the nation.
“[We] help provide a Christmas for less-fortunate kids within the Cabot School District. It helps bridge the gap between kids and our department staff and, hopefully, allows us to have a positive interaction with kids on a different level than when we respond to a call for service at their house,” he said.
Children in first through fourth grades are selected for the program by school counselors throughout the district, he said, and go shopping with police officers at the Walmart Supercenter in Cabot.
Lucas said the number of children who can participate is based on need and available funds each year.
“Money is raised through a combination of ways,” he said. “There are fundraisers like the dunking booth, calendar sales, a softball game, and Deadlifts and Donuts, to name a few. We also accept donations from citizens and businesses within the community throughout the year
This year, the shopping event will take place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12.
“There is a list that we usually get ahead of time for the event for each child. Some of those listed items are something they need, something they want and something for someone else. We usually have a list, along with sizes given to us, so we can help the child shop,” he said.
Lucas said the program has helped build relationships that would not have otherwise existed.
So far this year, approximately $9,000 has been raised for the C.O.P.S. Toy Patrol, and donations are still being accepted, he said.
Tina Frost, the Cabot Police Department’s volunteer chaplain, started the program in Cabot, Lucas said.
“She has provided a lot of support to this agency and our staff,” he said. “She has also helped raise awareness and foster support throughout the community for the Police Department by sharing the many challenges faced by our staff that most in the community would not have known about otherwise.
Frost said the program promotes goodwill between police officers and children in the community.
“It shows that the police really care about them, and also shows that my officers do more than just arrest people,” she said.
The department’s goal this year is to take 60 children shopping, she said.
As a dispatcher at the Cabot Police Department in 2003, Frost said, she noticed that officers wanted to take children shopping for the holidays.
In 2012, she became chaplain and helped make that dream a reality.
Frost said some of the things she does for the department include death notifications, staying with victims until family can arrive, feeding officers on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and throwing an annual Christmas party to show department members how much they are appreciated.
“I am there to show my officers and dispatchers that what they do really matters,” she said. “I am there to help my department in any way they need me. The reason I am a police chaplain is I believed that the Lord called me to be a chaplain. I always thought I would be a police officer, but the Lord had different plans for me.”
Frost said that what she enjoys most about the C.O.P.S. Toy Patrol is seeing children shop with officers and form bonds.
“I admire Tina’s dedication to her Christian values and her willingness to promote the department and its personnel in a positive way,” Lucas said.
Donations can be mailed to C.O.P.S. Toy Patrol, P.O. Box 123, Cabot, AR 72023.