‘Santas’ bring smiles during Santa Cop

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 20, 2009

NATCHEZ — For some Natchez children, Santa Claus isn’t dressed in a red suit.

For those who took part in Saturday morning’s annual Santa Cop shopping day, Santa Claus was in a Natchez Police Department uniform.

Santa Cop is an annual program that pairs law enforcement officials with local needy children and provides the children with a day of Christmas fun.

Email newsletter signup

The morning started early when an NPD employee picked up each child for breakfast at McDonalds.

Then the children, accompanied by law enforcement officials and community volunteers, headed to Walmart for a little Christmas shopping.

Kiarra Brown, 9, of Natchez, enjoyed the day with her two cousins who were also part of the Santa Cop shopping day.

Brown took her time browsing the clothing department for just the right outfit that combined her love of things that sparkle with her favorite color, pink.

She decided on a pair of jeans with rhinestone-embellished pockets and a pink shirt adorned with sequins before heading to pick out a new pair of shoes.

“I like shopping when I can,” she said.

All of the children got to pick out one outfit, including pants, shirt, undergarments, socks and shoes, and one toy.

Brown was shopping with Adams County Extension Service employee Paula Gaylor who decided to volunteer for the program to help a local child.

“This is a good cause that helps good children that through no fault of their own don’t have the big Christmas other children get,” Gaylor said.

After finding the perfect outfit Brown headed over to the board games where she picked out a game of Pictionary that she plans to play with her cousins and other family members.

“I like spending time with my family,” she said. “This is something we can do together.”

Gaylor said while she volunteered to help a child, meeting Brown made her realize the program benefited her too.

“She is just a sweet, well-behaved, well-mannered child,” Gaylor said. “I made a friend today.”

While Brown took her time picking out what she wanted, Taylor Edney, 9, knew just what she wanted — boots.

“I like boots, and I don’t have any,” she said.

Her toy choice was just as easy. Edney picked out a black horse.

“I like the color black, and I like to play with horses,” she said. “This way I get both.”

A few aisles over brothers Damon and Dillon Stafford were helping each other pick out toys to complete their day of shopping.

Dillon picked out a tool set and Damon wanted a video game.

“I think I’m going to like this game,” Damon said. “It looks fun.”

Spending the day getting to know local children gives police officers a chance to leave a positive image on the youngsters, Officer William Mitchell said.

“This is my second year to do this,” he said. “It lets the kids see us as a positive thing for the community, as someone that wants to help them.”

The Santa Cop program is funded by donations from the community.

Children are selected by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.