Cops play role of Santa for kids
NATCHEZ — Sometimes Santa doesn’t wear a red suit and carry a big bag of gifts. Sometimes he wears a badge and carries a gun.
On Saturday, law enforcement officers and employees from the Natchez and Vidalia police departments, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the park rangers gave 43 Miss-Lou children an early visit from Santa and a special shopping trip at the 22nd annual Santa Cop event.
After breakfast at McDonald’s, the children and their shopping partners in crime headed to Walmart to pick out clothes, shoes and toys for Christmas.
It was Vidalia school resource officer Kejuane Bates’ first Santa Cop shopping trip, but he had plenty of help from his shopping buddy, 4-year-old Angelo Milton.
Their first stop was the clothes department, where Bates helped Milton try on an assortment of clothes.
Bates said he was grateful to be a part of making Christmas a special time for Milton and other local children.
“I feel privileged to be able to help them,” Bates said. “I think it’s a blessing and a great opportunity. I’m actually overwhelmed.”
With a buggy full of presents just for him, Milton said he was excited for Christmas.
“I got lots of stuff,” he said.
Sisters Carolena and Sylena Smith were on a mission to find fairy princess dolls and pajamas with matching socks.
Cal Green and Tina Thompson with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office helped the Carolena, 7, and Sylena, 5, dig through a selection of pink and purple socks, cartoon character shirts, toys and a variety of other items to pick out their favorites.
“I like this shopping because I get to buy my own things,” Carolena said. “And I like being with the police officers because they’re good, and they’re friendly.”
Green has been participating in Santa Cop for 16 years.
“The looks on their faces are just priceless,” she said.
Park rangers Jerome Timmons and Graeme Morris helped brothers Gregory, 13, and Garrett, 12, Martin shop for their Christmas wish list.
“It’s really nice to be giving back to the community,” Timmons said.
Seven-year-old Eugene Bernard was a little shy about picking out gifts at first, but Natchez police officer Amos Williams guided him through the racks of clothes offering suggestions and helping Bernard pick out gifts.
“This experience, I love it,” Williams said. “Bringing these kids out here and getting them things for Christmas they can’t get at home, it’s really great.”
Santa Cop is sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police. Local schools and the Mississippi Department of Human Services select children for the program. Each child’s family also receives one box of food at the Santa Cop event.