Grins and giggles were abundant as 125 children set off to find new toys and clothes for Christmas on Monday morning at the Walmart on Loop 288.
Thanks in part to the Denton Police Officer’s Association’s Shop with a Cop program, children in need were able to have Christmas presents their parents might not be able to afford.
An estimated 30 to 40 officers and employees of the Denton Police Department volunteered with the program this year. Most have volunteered for years.
Trent Jones, an investigator with the narcotics division, said he has been with the department for 17 years and he has been a volunteer of the program every year of his service.
“I think it’s great — parents are able to utilize this program to get toys and winter clothes for their children they otherwise couldn’t,” Jones said. “It’s good to see the smiles on the children’s faces every year when they can pick out a few new toys.”
The parents of the children feel the same.
“It’s just a blessing … we are very blessed,” said Denton resident Makeda Agers.
Agers was shopping with her 6-year-old daughter, Kylor Strong.
The children each get $120 to spend on themselves, said Donna Krouskup, a nine-year veteran with the crime scene investigation unit. They may spend $60 for toys and $60 for clothes.
“I’m just glad we are able to help the families in need cope with the winter months a little better,” Krouskup said.
The families are selected through Interfaith Ministries, which provides short-term emergency financial assistance to people to Denton County.
The organization’s goal is to help clients become self-sufficient. To qualify for Shop with a Cop, now in its 21st year, families must live in the county.
“Our largest family helped this year had six children,” said Condell Garden, executive director of Interfaith Ministries. “We have children from the age of 5 to 15, and while some families may get repeat help, it’s a different child from within the family every year.”
Whether they were on the hunt for a Justin Bieber poster or just reaching for a Hot Wheels car, police department volunteers were happy to help.
“None of this would have been possible without our donors,” said Jay Seiler, president of the Denton Police Officers Association.
“We really need to thank our private donors — year after year they continue to support the program,” Seiler said. “No amount is ever too small, and it’s amazing to see so much support throughout the community.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .