Cops helps kids complete Christmas lists

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Police officers took kids to the aisles of Target to help them find and afford the perfect Christmas gifts.

Everyone wants to celebrate Christmas with an evergreen tree surrounded by gifts, but presents can be expensive. Thankfully, there’s hope.

Black Hills Badges for Hope gave kids the chance to realize their holiday wishes during their annual Cops & Kids effort at Target’s Eglin Street location on Saturday.

Rapid City police officers and Pennington County sheriff’s deputies alike took kids under their wing to help them search for the perfect Christmas gifts.

Each child was given $100 to spend on themselves, and, in the spirit of giving, their family. The money was gathered from contributions by local organizations, but officers didn’t mind spending out of their own pocket for the kids.

Mark Bartik, a Pennington County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy, said they encouraged young shoppers to keep in line with the Christmas spirit by buying gifts for their family members.

“The attitude of the season is all about giving and being thankful and helping out other people,” Bartik said. “We want to make sure they’re buying for the other family members as well.”

Det. Jason Lahaie, vice president of Black Hills Badges for Hope, said that the children had their priorities in order when they went shopping.

“For kids, they’ll buy toys and stuff, but these kids are very aware of day-to-day needs,” Lahaie said. “I’ve had them buy silverware and slippers for grandmas, so they know what their family’s needs are.”

Luke Bender was one lucky kid who went shopping with an officer. He bought himself a Hot Wheels transforming vehicle, but not before picking up presents for the family.

“[I got] my uncle some slippers and my sister some pants and my auntie a wallet,” Bender said.

As they shopped, the lawmen and women chatted with their shopping buddies to get to know more about their new friends.

“We don’t want kids to be afraid of law enforcement. We want us to be the ones that the kids go running to when there’s a problem,” Bartik said. “We don’t want to be the bad guys; we want to be seen as the good guys.”

After browsing through the store, each cop and kid brought their holiday haul to be wrapped and bowed – not to be opened ‘til Christmas.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News