Season of Wishes: Santa Cop helps children who might not otherwise get presents
By HUNTER CLOUD
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — Santa Cop is a program that gives presents to children who otherwise would not receive any each December. The program is one of the ways the Natchez Police Department serves the community.
Children are selected for the program by the Natchez-Adams County School District. Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said 30 to 40 children get to go shopping every year because of the program.
“So many times people take for granted what these kids see as a big deal,” Armstrong said. “There are those who don’t realize how much it means to the kids to have something for Christmas. These kids are able to buy clothing, shoes and anything of value up to the amount of $150 and are given a bag of groceries for their family.”
Once the school selects the children for the program, the Natchez Police Department will call their homes to set up the shopping spree. Armstrong said Santa Cop is also another tool they use to build relationships with the community.
Santa Cop’s biggest need is volunteers to take children shopping, Armstrong said. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the number of volunteers who volunteered to help shop this year, Armstrong said. Funding is also needed by Santa Cop with more funding meaning an expansion of the program.
Volunteers can contact the Natchez Police Department if they would like to help. Money can be sent to the Police Department at 233 Devereux Dr, Natchez, 39120 with Santa Cop written on the envelopes or checks.
The Natchez Police Department receives a $1,000 grant from Walmart for Community Support which they use for Santa Cop, Armstrong said. This grant along with other funds helps Santa Cop touch the lives of children such as a child Armstrong said he remembers sobbing in Walmart during a shopping day.
On the way home the child told an officer if it wasn’t for a Santa Cop she wouldn’t have gotten anything for Christmas. Armstrong was told why she was crying when he came in to work the following Monday. It was a moment, Armstrong said, when he realized Santa Cop meant more than just gifts and groceries to the children.
“That really really touched my heart,” Armstrong said. “It was that day that I realized that we are really making a difference. Sponsors of Santa Cop are making a difference. Those who volunteer their time to take these kids shopping are really making a difference.”