Sikeston DPS, community partner to give children Christmas
SIKESTON — More Sikeston children and their families will have a merrier Christmas this year, thanks to Sikeston Department of Public Safety’s first Shop With a Cop program.
On Wednesday, 24 children from Sikeston R-6 School District’s three elementary schools were matched with officers from Sikeston Department of Public Safety and combed the aisles at Walmart in Sikeston to find the perfect gifts for themselves and their families.
Sikeston DPS has participated in other local “shop with a cop/hero” programs over the years but has not organized its own and never has it solely been Sikeston DPS officers shopping with Sikeston children, at least not in recent years, according to Trisha Griswell, administrative assistant for DPS.
“It went fantastic. We don’t know who had more fun — the kids or us,” Griswell said.
Several of the children focused on buying gifts for their parents, siblings, cousins and teachers, Griswell said, adding many of the children had to be reminded to purchase something for themselves.
Dr. Kimberley Blissett, assistant superintendent of elementary/special education for Sikeston R-6 schools, was on hand for the occasion.
“I’m so excited to be here to see how happy and excited the kids are,” Blissett said.
Griswell said the idea for Sikeston DPS to sponsor the event came last year after DPS participated in another local Shop with a Cop/Hero event.
“We felt like Sikeston wasn’t represented, and we decided to host our own program this year,” Griswell said.
Griswell, Sgt. John Tomaszewski and School Resource Officer Brent Mullin discussed the possibility of Sikeston DPS organizing its own event and began planning in July for the new event, Griswell said.
“It’s a great event because it not only provides kids with presents they may not have otherwise gotten, but it also helps to foster a sense of comfort between public safety officers and youth in our community,” Tomaszewski said. “If more children see public safety officers as friendly and being there to help, we will see the positive effects of that for years to come.”
The community seems to really appreciate the idea of a “shop with a cop/hero program,” and many businesses and individuals donated to make the idea possible, Tomaszewski said.
“Sikeston DPS would like to graciously thank our many wonderful community partners that enable us to make a difference each and every day through their continued support,” Tomaszewski said.
In addition to the local businesses and individuals who contributed in advance to the cause, others who were shopping on Wednesday gave donations to next year’s effort. Many community members have also voiced their support for the program, she said.
“We are going to have this program again next year, and we want to serve 50 children,” Griswell said.
Donations for next year’s “shop with a cop” event will be accepted throughout the year at DPS headquarters.