‘Cops and Kids’ helps Arlington families | SLIDESHOW
By KIRK BOXLEITNER
Arlington Times Reporter
December 21, 2011 · Updated 2:24 PM
ARLINGTON — More than two dozen Arlington children were treated to midday holiday shopping excursions alongside area police officers on Saturday, Dec. 17, as the Fraternal Order of Police brought together “Cops and Kids.”
“With the economy the way it’s been, it’s been tough to get money for programs like this,” Snohomish County FOP Lodge President and Arlington Police Sgt. Anthony Davis said. “Especially with as tough as things are, kids might not always look at the police in a positive way. We want them to feel like they can come to us when they need someone to turn to, rather than being scared of us.”
Davis explained that the kids of this year’s “Cops and Kids” were recommended by local school counselors, and benefited from what he deemed “a ton of volunteers,” including law enforcement officers and civilians alike.
“It’s not easy to take that many kids shopping and keep track of all of them, especially when they’re given $100 each to spend on gifts,” Davis laughed.
The Arlington Walmart, the Lakewood Target and the Marysville Fred Meyer served as the sites of these holiday shopping sprees, which received support from organizations including the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Dwayne Lane Chevrolet, the NASA Restaurant at the Arlington Municipal Airport, Costco, Safeway and John L. Scott Real Estate.
“People who were already shopping at the stores just handed us money,” said Davis, who received $500 from a representative of General Mills that afternoon to go toward next year’s “Cops and Kids.”
Siblings Courtney and Josh Black shared dad Phil’s assessment that their family probably would have found a way to make do for Christmas even without “Cops and Kids,” but they all agreed that it would have been much more of a challenge.
“I don’t normally get presents for my dad,” said Courtney Black, 11. “All he wanted was something that he’d actually need.”
“We’re just starting to do okay again, but after having been laid off for two years, we’re still not caught up, so this has been a great help,” Phil Black said.
Just as Josh Black, 12, appreciated being given the responsibility of holding the money during his shopping spree, so too did Courtney enjoy the company of the female law enforcement officers who escorted her through the stores’ aisles.
“It’s great that she could go with female officers and see some positive female role models,” Phil said. “As she starts thinking about her future, it shows her what women can do.”
Although Arlington Police Sgt. Kay Schander had assisted Davis in coordinating previous holiday shopping trips pairing off children with police officers, this year was his first accompanying the kids as they bought for themselves and their families.
“They were reserved at first, but once they got warmed up, they were ready to go and wanted to keep on keeping on,” laughed Schander, a father of two who supervised three 9-year-old girls. “They were very nice and well-behaved, though.”
“The best was seeing how much the kids wanted to give other people, and not just buy for themselves,” said Arlington Police Officer Ronnie Johnstone, also a first-time escort to holiday shopping children in “Cops and Kids.”
Amber Peters and Shane Greene were glad to see their sons, Cameron Peters and Jordyn Mooney, treated to such an upbeat experience, especially given Jordyn’s struggles with temporal lobe epilepsy from a non-life-threatening but inoperable tumor.
“I had to quit my job to stay home with Jordyn,” Amber said. “I loved my job, but the kids are more important.”
“It’s wonderful how this humanizes law enforcement in the eyes of these kids,” Shane said.
All the families interviewed extended their thanks to the officers and other volunteers who made “Cops and Kids” possible.
Contact Arlington Times Reporter Kirk Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-659-1300 Ext. 5052.