Season of Wishes: Santa Cop brings Christmas to less-fortunate children

Published 12:15 am Thursday, November 29, 2018


NATCHEZ — Santa is a cop, at least for a few lucky Natchez children each year.

For the past couple of decades some less-fortunate Natchez children are chauffeured by a Natchez police officer and treated to a shopping spree through a charitable program called Santa Cop.

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Natchez Police Capt. Tom McGehee said the Natchez Police Department has conducted the program for at least 20 years.

“It started out being a national program,” McGehee said. “A company came in and raised money.”

After the first year or so, McGehee said the police department decided to conduct the program in house to save the expense of paying the national company to conduct the program each year.

At that time, McGehee said, the Natchez Police Department named the program “Santa Cop.”

Each year, the Natchez-Adams School District and the Adams County Family and Children Services recommend approximately 30 to 40 children for the program, McGehee said.

“Last year, we took 40 kids Christmas shopping with funds raised through the Santa Cop program,” said Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong, whose first year with the department and program was last year. “We took three or four kids each Saturday and bought them each $150 worth of goods and a bag of groceries. It is a great program.”

The funding comes from a portion of dues officers pay for membership in the Fraternal Order of Police and through donations from the community, McGehee said.

Armstrong said the program makes a real difference in children’s lives.

“The kids get extremely excited,” Armstrong said, adding the officers buy them clothes, shoes and games. “One kid was crying uncontrollably in Walmart. We didn’t know what was wrong and the employee told us the child said if it was not for us, she would not have gotten anything for Christmas.”

McGehee said this year’s shopping sprees will be on Dec. 13 after school and that wives of police chiefs from throughout the state who will be in Natchez that week for the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police Winter Conference at the Natchez Convention Center will go shopping with the children.

A second day of shopping will be Dec. 22, McGehee said.

Although the program already has funds raised to accommodate this year’s children, McGehee said donations could still be made to the program by sending checks payable to the Fraternal Order of Police and mailing them to 233 D’Evereux Drive, Natchez, MS 39120.