EATON — Thirty-two children from 13 families were treated to a merrier Christmas this year thanks to the generosity of local donors and the Fraternal Order of Police Floyd E. Spitler Lodge’s annual Cops & Kids event.
Law enforcement officials from around Preble County came together to volunteer and shop with the families at the Eaton Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
According to FOP representative and Preble County Sheriff’s Major Brad Moore, the families selected to participate in each Cops & Kids event “have fallen on hard times due to lost jobs and other circumstances.”
This year the children ranged in age from 1 year to 15.
The Cops & Kids event helps families from all over the Preble County community. The selected families go shopping with FOP members for all the necessities: jackets, clothes, shoes, socks, and any other clothing items they need. With any remaining funds, the children may purchase gifts for their family. They were also treated to a hot meal beforehand.
“For the first time in three years, we brought the meal back,” Moore said. Vancrest Health Care Center donated a full meal.
“Sharon Beare, their head chef, and Vancrest donated the entire meal for everybody — cops and everyone — so they made enough food for 100 people and donated it all. So that was really nice of Sharon Beare and Vancrest,” he added.
Vancrest also donated Kroger gift cards for each family, so they can shop for groceries for a meal for Christmas, according to Moore.
All the purchases made during the event are made possible by the members of the FOP and donations from citizens and businesses throughout Preble County. Over the last 11 years, Cops & Kids has helped over 280 children from across the county have a happier Christmas holiday.
“Donations are actually up this year,” Moore said. “So yeah, it was good. We picked up I think five or six extra kids than what we had last year.”
“It really says something about the Preble County community and the businesses, and everybody that’s donated, because inflation is up, gas prices are up. Everything is really high and it’s our biggest donation year. So that really tells you where people’s mindsets are about giving back,” he added. “We’ve collected about $350 here at Walmart just tonight — random people coming up asking ‘what’s going on’ and saying they think that’s great. Here’s a $20, a $10 here, a $50.”
Volunteers from the PCSO, Eaton Police Division, West Alexandria Police Department, Camden helped the children shop during the Walmart excursion.
“The Success Liaisons at the schools have played a huge role for us,” Moore added. “They’re really instrumental because they’re on the front lines. They’re the ones that get the information to me and then we kind of vet them from there,” he said of the children served.
Moore said they check with United Way and other organizations to ensure the families have not already been served by other holiday programs so there’s no doubling-up of services.
Walmart provided goody bags and refreshments for the children and donated money as well.
“We love helping the community out and we appreciate that they shop here. We’ll do anything for the kids and it’s important for us to give back to the community,” Walmart’s said.
One hundred percent of the donations received for Cops & Kids go to the shopping event, which in turn determines how many children and their families can be helped each year by the program. Anyone interested in donating to the 2023 Cops & Kids event can make donations to Cops & Kids, P.O. Box 602, Eaton, OH 45320.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.