Columbus cops shop with kids

December 17, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As many of us hustle to complete our Christmas shopping, there's undoubtedly many who won't have that privilege. That's why some Columbus Police respond to a call that comes once a year.

It's probably not what you would expect to see while doing your Christmas shopping - police officers on every aisle.

"We try to show them that there is more to Christmas than just receiving presents," Captain J.D. Hawk, Columbus Police Department said.

Dozens of Columbus children get a hundred dollars each to shop for their family, helped by the men and women in blue. "Some are referred to by actual officers that ran into them on the beats and saw that they were probably not going to have a Christmas. So they refer them," Hawk said.

Kids have the once in a lifetime chance to ride to Wal-Mart in a cop car, building a connection that could last for years.

"From the moment we see them at the Civic Center we got to meet them, talk to them, a little bit, they get to play with the sirens and we talk to them about school," CPD Officer Travis Spencer said.

It builds an unlikely trust. "If something happens most of the time, these kids will not be afraid to go up to a police officer. They'll go up and talk to them whereas some kids tend to be afraid," Hawk said.

"We help them later on so they don't think of us as the bad guys all of the time. They can come to us and talk to us," CPD Officer Joel Reed said.

Officers give their time and money, while the children receive a gift that lasts long after Christmas. "It's something to make kids happy especially the children that don't get everything that other children do," said Spencer.