ARLINGTON — Three police officers from Arlington were joined by one each from Stanwood and Edmonds, as well as three Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies, in helping 14 Arlington children celebrate the winter holidays as a season of giving.
“Cops and Kids” came together again on Saturday, Dec. 15, to shop for themselves and their loved ones at the Arlington Walmart, although Arlington Police K-9 Officer Anthony Davis acknowledged that the program had downsized slightly from the more than two dozen Arlington children who were treated to holiday shopping sprees last December.
“We’ve got less money and fewer kids this year,” said Davis, who nonetheless noted that each child still received $100 to purchase presents for themselves, their families and their friends at Walmart, to which the Arlington Walmart added $25 for each of those dozen children who showed up on Dec. 15. “One of the kids was sick, and another didn’t want to come out for the day, so we gave the money to their parents.”
Fellow Arlington Police Officer Mike Keating was again accompanied by his son Aden, who turned 13 this year but has been helping his dad supervise young “Cops and Kids” shoppers since he was the same age age as many of them.
“The only thing that could stop me from coming out would be if I had a work shift scheduled,” Mike Keating said. “Seeing the kids’ reactions is definitely worth investing a couple of hours of your time. They’re just as excited as all get-out.”
While the Keatings helped 11-year-old Catherine Fagerlie hunt down a requested Christmas ornament for her grandmother, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Sanders and his fiancee found themselves encouraging 9-year-old Gracey Hoover to be slightly less selfless in their buying that day.
“This is the third year that I’ve done this, but especially after the tragic school shooting in Connecticut yesterday, it just feels nice for me to take kids out and let them have some fun,” Sanders said on Dec. 15. “Gracey had some trouble getting stuff for herself, since all she wanted to do was buy things for others, which amazed me. When these kids who don’t have a lot are given money to spend, they want to spend it on others.”
Just as Fagerlie’s expectations of meeting a “stern, serious” police officer were contradicted when she found the senior Keating to be “really fun,” so too did Hoover warm quickly to Sanders as an escort, even though she’d been nervous about meeting a member of law enforcement for the first time.
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy Marcus Dill praised his own young shopper, Hunter Ridele, for budgeting his funds well enough to have $3 left over, which he then decided to give to his mom after already buying presents for her, his stepdad, his sister and one of his teachers.
“He also got a wallet for himself that he really wanted,” Dill laughed. “It’s just fun to watch them have the experience of shopping for the holidays and make their own choices.”
“This is a great program,” said Wilena Langham-Henry, who joined her son Jonathan in wrapping gifts at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club after his Walmart shopping spree. “It can be hard to stay positive during the holidays when your family’s in need, but by interacting with the cops and other volunteers, these kids learn that there are people in the community who care about them, and that they shouldn’t be ashamed of needing to use these types of services.”
“Look at this room and tell me what you see,” said Bob Baize, one of the volunteers who helped serve up free pizza and soda for the children, their families and the members of law enforcement as they finished their gift-wrapping at the Boys & Girls Club. “These police officers are smiling. They don’t get a chance to do things like this all that often, especially with what they deal with on a daily basis.”
All the families interviewed extended their thanks to the members of law enforcement and other volunteers who made “Cops and Kids” possible.