EATON — The pandemic could not stop the Preble County Fraternal Order of Police from helping support local children and families during its annual Cops & Kids shopping event.
For the 11th consecutive year, law enforcement from around Preble County converged on a local department store to help area children do some Christmas shopping. The event took place at Walmart again this year, on Wednesday evening, Dec. 9.
“We felt it was very important to make sure we still had it — but obviously, we didn’t have the event like we normally do, with a catered dinner, Santa Claus coming in and things like that,” Preble County Sheriff’s Major Brad Moore said.
This year, the program was able to serve 13 families — with 36 children — thanks to a generous outpouring of support and donations.
According to Moore, to ensure the health and safety of the families, participants were asked if they were sick and masks were required. Children who were quarantined will later receive gift cards to use to make their purchases or can come back to shop at a later date with officers.
An anonymous donor provided hams and bags of potatoes for each family to make their own Christmas meal.
Moore has been in charge of organizing the event for nearly a decade.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” he said. “It lets you know there’s a lot of good people out there. I would say 75 percent of the people I contacted for this year [were] immediately crying. In years past, I always go to the homes because I like to meet them in person. This year, I had to do it over the phone, because of COVID — and they’ll start crying, and it’s just a humbling experience. You might think you’ve got it bad, but it’s not ever as bad as it seems. There’s always somebody out there that needs some help.”
Jessica Wolfe and Rhonda Creager represented Eaton Dairy Queen at the event. This was the first time the DQ had been involved with Cops & Kids, having just opened earlier this year.
During the restaurant’s grand opening, a check was presented to the FOP to benefit the shopping event. Wolfe and Creager were on hand to support the local law enforcement officers involved and present the families with tickets for free food.
“Being a lifelong resident of the county, doing something like this makes me want to cry,” Creager said. “It’s a great thing. Thank you so much to our law enforcement in this county and city for doing what they do.”
“It’s been really cool,” Wolfe added. “We watched a kid walk out with a really nice bicycle. He was smiling from ear to ear.”
According to Wolfe, DQ takes part in this sort of activity in each of the counties or cities it operates in.
Law enforcement and public safety representatives from the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, City of Eaton, Gratis and West Alexandria were on hand. Children served ranged from 3-16 years old, with one single mother helped with purchases for her soon-to-be-born baby.
“All of them are good people trying to make ends meet,” Moore said. “And the best thing about this event is it’s all from community donations.”