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Annual police program lets children shop with officers for Christmas

NATCHEZ — For the next three Saturdays, Santa will be wearing blue.
Santa Cop, also known as Shop with a Cop, is the annual program sponsored by the Natchez Fraternal Order of Police that partners local law enforcement officers with needy children for a day of holiday shopping fun.
Natchez Police Department Chief Walter Armstrong said so far officers have funds to give 30 children a total budget of $150. Armstrong said with additional donations, the department could reach more children.
“We want to spend every dime on these children,” Armstrong said. “If we can get more money, then we can take more children shopping.”
Armstrong said in Natchez, like many communities, some people do not have the financial resources to provide their children with a Christmas gift.
“They don’t have the monies to bring joy to the faces of children,” Armstrong said. “If you donate, you would be making some children very happy come Christmas morning. Without people coming forward, a lot of children will wake up Christmas morning not having gifts at all.”
The event will start at 8 a.m. Saturday, where police department officers, as well as staff, will take 10 children to Walmart to buy $150 worth of items they want for Christmas. Armstrong said officers would take more children shopping on Dec. 16 and Dec. 23.
The children have been identified by the Natchez-Adams School District.
In the past, the event has included lunch for the children. Armstrong said this year they are focusing the funds available on gifts. However, with enough donations Armstrong said the police could also provide a breakfast and lunch.
Armstrong said Natchez Police Department is a community service organization.
“We want to know the community that we are no different from them,” he said. “We see this as an opportunity to contribute to the community and provide a service to the children who might not otherwise get the Christmas gifts they deserve. I am just so glad (the) Natchez Police Department will play a role in that.”
The program also helps build a relationship between law enforcement and the community, Armstrong said, as well as provides an opportunity for children to spend a few hours with officers.
“Over the last several years, a huge anti-police wave has swept through the country,” Armstrong said. “We don’t have that problem here in Natchez. It is not police and citizens. We are one.”
Donations can be dropped off at the police department at 233 D’Evereux Drive or checks can be made out to the Natchez Fraternal Order of Police — Shop with a Cop to P.O. Box 97, Natchez, MS, 39120).
“I am very proud to know I am part of a community to have people who don’t mind giving back,” Armstrong said. “Not only that, but they are giving to children who have to have someone be responsible for them.
“In some cases, their parents are unable to do anything. This is a huge program. It is huge that we can serve these underprivileged children.”

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