LAURINBURG – Two local law enforcement agencies are working to lockdown some good this holiday season.
The Laurinburg Police Department and Scotland County Sheriff’s Office have both created programs to give back to children in need this Christmas.
Shop With a Cop
The police department’s Shop With a Cop program is in its third year.
The program is a way for the department to make connections and ties in the community that reach beyond typical police work, according to Police Chief Darwin “Duke” Williams.
“Every child should wake up to something on Christmas,” Williams said. “It’s a way to give back to the community. The officers get to know the children in the hour or two hours and the kids get to know the officers. The guys enjoy doing this and look forward to doing it and connecting with the families.”
Last year, the police department gave Christmas to 30 needy families. The children were taken to Walmart and given a $175 spending limit. They were allowed to pick out whatever they wanted as long as it was within the budget.
“We try to pair them with an officer or other team member. We let them pick whatever they want as long as it’s in that price range, and in a number of cases the officers went in their own pockets and extended that $175,” Williams said.
Williams has seen the impact such a simple gesture can have on children in the three years of doing the service project. Last year the department was able to give an 11-year-old boy a bike. The child had never had a bicycle of his own. He was so excited to have his very own bike that he rode it out of the store and into the parking lot.
“We can lose focus in life sometimes. You would be surprised at what direction [interactions like this] can send a child. We’re not going to be able to reach every child, but we’ll reach the ones we can,” Williams said.
The department raises funds for the program by hosting a two-day youth girls’ softball tournament. They bill the tournament as a kids helping kids event. Teams from Fayetteville, Hoke County, Florence and Dillon, South Carolina participated, according to Williams.
The Tuesday Cruisers car club also donated $500 to the program this year.
Williams expressed gratitude to the club for “helping to make some kids smile this Christmas.”
Anyone willing to donate can call the Laurinburg Police Department at 910-276-3211. Ask for Lt. Chris Singletary or Chief Williams.
Shop With a Sheriff’s Deputy
The sheriff’s office is going into its second year of giving a special Christmas to children in need.
Last year the Shop With a Sheriff’s Deputy program helped 12 children from elementary to middle school age. The Sheriff’s Office coordinates with local schools to choose which families it will help. The children are encouraged to select things they might need like clothes or shoes first and spend the rest on something they want.
“As we’re approaching December and we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ…we practice giving presents and not expect anything back,” said Sheriff Ralph Kersey. “This is another way Scotland County Sheriff’s Office can serve the citizens we’ve taken an oath to serve and protect.”
Kersey believes that 85 percent of what law enforcement does goes beyond enforcing the law. He hopes that interactions like these will help build better community relationships and help children see a different side of law enforcement officers than they might otherwise see.
“This is two hours of good and fellowship that maybe other days of the year they wouldn’t get to see us in that type of environment,” Kersey said.
Though the program has only taken place once Kersey has already seen the touching impact it has.
“I was moved by the fact that when you’re doing the shopping and they have $100 to spend, they’re thinking about their little brothers and sisters and parents and getting them something,” Kersey said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the program can contact the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-276-3385 or mail a donation to Scotland County Sheriff’s Office Shop With the Sheriff at 212 Biggs Street. Donations will be collected until Dec. 15.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169