Courtesy Photo: Officer Chris Bell (center) stands in line with children participating in the annual Cops and Kids event, held on Dec. 14 at Walmart in Martinsville.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Patrick Henry Lodge No. 73, received a $3,500 grant from the Harvest Youth Board to serve 68 children in the “Cops and Kids” program this year.

Walmart hosts more than 50 active and retired members of law enforcement annually, who shop with a child for Christmas gifts.

“I think that giving kids of all ages a chance to pick out gifts is so thoughtful,” said Harvest Youth Board Member Madison Ross. “A few members of the board had mentioned that these kids often pick out presents for others before they even think of themselves.”

“It touches me that even though these kids may be less fortunate than others, they remain selfless,” Ross added. “I love absolutely everything about the Cops for Kids grant, and I’m so glad that we chose to fund it and make these kids’ Christmases special.”

“One reason I love this grant is because I get to see the smile on the kids’ faces when they get to pick out whatever they want for Christmas,” said Youth Board Member Finley Underwood. “It’s also special to see the relationship developing between the youth and the police officers that help them pick out toys. We are very fortunate to be able to provide such a wonderful experience to the community.”

Lt. Ben Peters with the Martinsville Police Department, treasurer of the FOP, said they’ve been doing the program in Martinsville-Henry County for more than 15 years.

“Usually when we get a call, it’s because of a negative situation – whether it’s a disturbance or another situation,” Peters said. “Being able to come out in a positive light and see the smiles on all the kids’ faces is great. The kids are able to see that we’re people just like them and that we’re here to help.”

FOP President Danny Wimmer said as part of the national Fraternal Order of Police organization, they have a duty to give back to the community.

“We’re trying to do our part as a FOP to help our community,” Wimmer said. “One of the best ways we do that is through the Cops and Kids program and providing for Christmas for children.”

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