Santa wears blue?

Published 12:03 am Sunday, December 18, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Chief Danny White, of the Natchez Police Department, helps DeQuarius Bates, 12, find a jacket in Natchez’s Walmart during the Santa Cop program Saturday morning.

NATCHEZ — Local law enforcement agencies took a break from protecting and serving the streets of Natchez Saturday morning to help bring an early Christmas to several needy children.

Thirty children from the Miss-Lou were able to cross some things off their Christmas lists as they participated in the Natchez Police Department’s annual Santa Cop shopping day.

The Santa Cop program, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police, gives local law enforcement officials an opportunity to provide needy children with a hot breakfast, lunch and a shopping trip to Walmart.

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Natchez police officers, Adams County sheriff’s deputies, emergency medical responders and Vidalia police officers participated in the 21st annual program.

The children were picked up from their houses and taken to McDonald’s for breakfast before heading to Walmart.

Natchez Police Department Captain Scott Frye has been participating in the program for approximately 18 years and said it’s always a great experience.

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Patrolman Kenneth Stampley of the Natchez Police Department helps Kerry Johnson, 5, shop for clothes in Natchez’s Walmart during the Santa Cop program Saturday morning.

“It just gives you a chance to spend time with the kids and take them out and make their day,” Frye said.

Xavier Woods, 7, was Frye’s shopping buddy for the day and picked out a remote control car for his toy of choice.

Even with a shopping cart full of clothes and toys, Woods said his favorite part of the day was breakfast.

“I had a sausage biscuit,” Woods said. “It was good.”

Clothes and shoes are first on the list to get for the officers, but not for the children.

Tonja Butler, with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, has participated in the program for about 10 years and said the kids always want the toys first.

“They want to get all that unnecessary stuff, like clothes and shoes, out of the way to get to the toys,” Butler said.

Butler and her shopping partner in crime, Jermeshia Queen, 9, picked out a few Bratz dolls, but said her favorite item was a Barbie makeup kit.

In the true spirit of Christmas, Queen also used her shopping funds to buy a Candy Land board game so she and her six sisters could all play together.

Butler said the program is always a highlight of her year.

“It’s just rewarding being part of a program where you know that each child being helped might not have these things without it,” Butler said.

Addie Hooper, Vidalia Police Department officer and co-chair of the Triad program, is only in her second year with the Santa Cop program, but said she was excited to get the opportunity to participate again.

“Any way I can make a difference in a child’s life I want to be able to do it, just to see those beautiful smiles on their faces,” Hooper said.

Kolby Chaplin, 6, was paired with Hooper and said his favorite toy was a mask from the movie “Captain America.”

The mood in the toy aisle turned quickly for Hooper as Chaplin slapped on the mask and engaged in pretend laser beam battles with Hooper.

“At first he was kind of shy, but after a while he hung on to me and now we’re buddy buddy,” Hooper said. “I’m just as excited as the children because I love Christmas.”