Police take about 50 kids shopping for Christmas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The spirit of the season calls for helping others, and that&8217;s just what the Natchez Police Department and other city employees did early Saturday morning.

About 50 local kids, ages 6 to 17, got a holiday treat when they were picked up by police cars for a fun-filled day. First, they were provided breakfast by McDonald&8217;s, then they went to Wal-Mart to pick out a few Christmas gifts.

&8220;We enjoy being able to give back to the community, to families who had a hard time this year,&8221; said Police Chief Mike Mullins.

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Lt. Gail Frisby, who has volunteered with the annual project for about 10 years, said although finding the kids in need and raising the necessary funds can be a hard task, it is always rewarding to see the joy on the childrens&8217; faces.

&8220;There are many steps involved. We find kids from the Department of Human Resources, local schools, the Salvation Army, the Guardian Shelter, and sometimes we get call-ins. Once we (make) the list (of kids), we&8217;ll contact the parents and let them know. The parents make a list of things their child needs, things like the basic necessities. And each kid gets one toy. It&8217;s a fun thing, it&8217;s hard work but it&8217;s very fun. The kids are always happy, appreciative and glad. They really enjoy it,&8221; she said.

Most of the kids had a few items in mind that they wanted to find.

Searcy Hayes, 12, eyed a blue jean fur-lined jacket.&8220;My favorite part so far has been eating at McDonald&8217;s, and getting to play. And I like these jackets,&8221; she said.

Steven Atkins, 13, said he was most looking forward to perusing the CD&8217;s.

Some of the younger kids were more in awe of the police officers.

&8220;I like spending time with police and riding in their car,&8221; said John Hardges, 9. &8220;I want to be a policeman when I grow up.&8221;

And Antryoena Washington, 6, only had one request.

&8220;When we went to pick her up, she asked if we could leave our handcuffs,&8221; Officer Jackson joked.

The police had a $5,700 budget, and spent $1,000 of that Friday night, when they bought groceries for the kids&8217; families.

&8220;We dropped off the groceries this morning when we picked up the kids. We made boxes for each family, with things like apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, Christmas candy and cookies,&8221; said Frisby.

After shopping, the kids were provided lunch by Natchez Regional Medical Center.