Christmas giving brings together a community like nothing else.
“When you see the Indianapolis Metro Police Department take 34 kids shopping from all around Indianapolis and Salem’s Shop With A Cop is able to help 200 children, that says a lot,” said Salem Police Department Major Detective Scott Ratts.
“Our community really gives and that makes it a really good thing. We live in a great community and it’s our community who comes together for this,” Said Ratts on WSLM’s Coffee Club program Tuesday morning.
Christmas is going to be a lot brighter and happier for nearly 500 children in Washington County thanks to the Christmas Assistance Program, headed up by Amy Crane and Southern Hills Church.
“We had 499 kids in the program,” said Crane. “We gave 100 kids to Shop With A Cop, 101 to Colie Clause (John Jones GM City’s program), 90 to the Salvation Army and the rest were taken care of by numerous churches, businesses and individuals!”
According to Ratts, the Shop With A Cop event was held at Salem’s new Walmart this year.
“We had 100 names and actually took 86 children shopping and had volunteers shop for the other 14,” said Ratts. “Walmart gave us 10 percent off at the end, which amounted to about $1600.”
Spending about $100 on smaller children and $160 on teens, the focus is on clothing.
“We try to spend $130 on clothing and $30 on a toy,” said Ratts. “I’ve gone to pick up kids before and they’ve come out and I said, you need to go in and get a coat and the little girl said I don’t have a coat. It made me feel about an inch tall.”
The focus is on underwear, socks, gloves, coats and shoes.
He said police would be buying for an additional 100 children in the coming week. “We’ve been extremely blessed this year,” he said, regarding donations.
Those children will be taken care of through Linck’s Clothing in Salem. “A lot of that will be done with Rita Links. I give her a name and a list. She’ll get it all together – clothes, shoes and toys. She really takes care of us on that and I just need to come and pick it up.”
Asked if there needed more donations and help, Ratts said he could use help with deliveries.
“Actually, tomorrow, I was going to do some deliveries on Wednesday at 4p. If anyone would like to help, meet me at the SPD,” Ratts said. “Just show up with a car and a little bit of gas and the willingness to go out and make a kids day.” He said there were 35 bags to deliver.
The event brings together not only the community, but all divisions of law enforcement: Salem Police, Pekin Town Marshall, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, EMTs, Conservation Officers and State Police, Fire Departments.
“You see a whole different person watching them shop for these children,” said Coffee Club host Becky White.
Ratts noted, “It’s a lot of fun. I have a blast doing it. Eric and Tera Mills took the reigns this year. They did an awesome job. Eric’s still working on some things. We have the entire sally port filled with packages to be delivered.”
Mills even brought Brigo, his K-9 to the event last Saturday.
In addition to law enforcement officials on hand to help, there were cheerleaders from Salem, East Washington and West Washington.
Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Strange said, “Without the volunteers and without our community this isn’t possible. When you hear Shop with a Cop and you hear someone is having an event for Shop With a Cop….it’s about giving.”
Ratts said he estimated the Shop With A Cop event has been going on for about 30 years and hads its origin with former Salem officers Marlon Robinson and Eugene Helms.
Jim…we’re just one of several organizations who work through CAP…without Amy and countless hours put into this, it couldn’t be done.
Crane said applications are planned to be sent out next year around November 2nd-4th. For more information, you can reach Crane at Southern Hills Church at 812-883-1637