32 children go shopping
More than $9,000 raised for annual Shop with a Cop
About 32 children will be sure to have a very merry Christmas now, thanks to the generosity of several businesses, individuals and the Seligman Police Department through the department's Shop with a Cop program.
On Sunday, three Seligman officers and two Missouri Department of Conservation officers took the children to the Cassville Walmart for a personal shopping spree that they nor their families won't soon forget.
"It was a pretty successful event," said Terry Burgess, Seligman police chief, who, along with his officers, helped collect donations for the event, which totaled $9,072. "It was a group effort."
Burgess said he was moved by the show of community support for the children.
"We had over 30 separate businesses and individual donors contribute," he said. "This program would not have been possible without the support of the community, businesses and individuals putting it together."
The festivities began with lunch provided at 11 a.m. at Subway inside Walmart, followed by shopping for anyone who needed basic necessities such as a warm winter coat, hat and gloves.
"If they needed it, they got it," Burgess said.
Then the main event began when officers accompanied children on their very own personal shopping spree. Donned in police-blue Santa hats, Seligman officers Wes Kissinger and Matt Phillips, Mayor Garry Thornton, Burgess and Missouri Department of Conservation Officers Daniel Shores and Dan VanDerhoef, got to experience what it must be like to be Santa, taking the children shopping up and down the toy aisles, with the last trip at 5 p.m.
Thanks to donors, each child had an individual shopping allowance of $240. Some of the most popular presents chosen were bicycles, tablets and remote control cars, Burgess said.
"It was both exhausting but fun at the same time," Burgess said. "We had one little boy whose brother was too young to come, so he bought him a little trike. And, one wanted to buy his dog a bag of dog food."
In addition to ensuring underprivileged children in Barry County have a merry and memorable Christmas, the program also aims to establish a positive relationship between children and police officers from a young age.
"I'm really grateful that our community cares enough to come together and get behind this project, because it truly impacts much more than just the 32 kids," Burgess said. "It impacts their families and shows that not only does the community care [about them], but the police department cares and that's what we're here for is the community. This time [of year] is difficult for a lot of families, so if we can make it easier on them we do, and this just lets them know we care."
"We had about 35 kids and three officers, so Terry asked us to help, and it was an honor to participate," said DOC Agent Daniel Shores. "The Seligman Police Department helped us with some things earlier in the year, so it was our way of helping them out, along with the community. It was a really awesome experience to participate in."
Burgess said he hopes he and his officers' actions are helping to set a new standard for police in the eyes of young children and their families.
"The program shows the kids that we care, and are here for more than just to patrol," Burgess said. "We stand for good. We want the community to trust us and want these kids to grow up with the right mindset that law enforcement is not a negative. We're for the greater good of the community."