NPD shops for a good cause

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 16, 2007

NATCHEZ — When a band of Natchez police officers converged on Wal-Mart Saturday morning, they had one mission — shop.

Armed with shopping lists and baskets of kids, the cops roamed rows of merchandise looking for everything from socks to soccer balls.

This year marked the 15th year members of the Natchez Police Department teamed up with local youngsters to take them on a Christmas shopping spree.

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The program is aptly named Santa Cop.

“Outside of this some of them would not get much for Christmas,” Lt. Gail Frisby said. “It’s really a chance for them to get some great stuff.”

Frisby said the best part about shopping with the kids is their sincere appreciation towards the officers.

“They are just so grateful,” she said.

And while the kids are appreciative, they are also quite happy to just shop.

Frisby said the officers take the kids shopping for clothes and then for toys.

“Shopping for toys takes more time so we do all the clothes first,” she said. “When it comes to toys, that can take a while.”

And so the officers and the kids swarm the children’s clothing department turning the shelves inside out.

The scene is just short of chaotic.

Kids run back and forth from merchandise to cop finding right size pants or matching socks.

Officer Joyce Jackson said participating in the Santa Cop program is one of her favorite parts of being a police officer.

“We like it; they like it,” she said. “It’s a good time.”

While Jackson talks, one little girl about 5 years old tries to put on a new pink belt she has picked out—she has no success.

Maj. Danny White was also at Saturday’s event helping kids pick out well-fitting, matching outfits.

“Christmas is about kids,” he said. “That’s who we’re here for.”

White also said he likes to use the time with the kids to show them that police officers can also be their friends.

“So many kids have a negative image of police,” he said. “We want them to know they can come to us if they need help.”

And that image alteration might actually be working.

After Zachery Thomeson, 6, picked out a shirt and tie, he said he wanted to look for a police set when the time came to shop for toys.

“I want one with handcuffs and a cap-gun,” he said.