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Photos: Kids Go Shopping With Newport Police

With sirens blaring and lights blazing, a parade of Police cruisers pulled into the Target lot in Newport on Saturday to let twenty­one lucky kids have a shopping trip with Newport’s finest. From Police Chief Tom Collins through the ranks of officers and dispatchers, the men and women of the Newport Police Department accompanied their student buddies into Target with a list of needed and wanted items and a lot of excitement and expectations.
“We have been doing this for at least the six years I have been here,” said Officer Jeff Kohls, President of the FOP Lodge #2. “Detective John Dunn is in charge of the event but we all help him. We raise the money to take the kids shopping at our Golf Outing in July and we are able to spend $200 on each child.”
To prepare for the event, the 21 children are chosen from all the elementary schools in Newport by the Family Resource Centers at each school. Then forms are sent to the parents of the children, who are usually between the ages of five and eleven, so that the parents can list what the children need, what they want, and how many siblings they have and what their sizes are. Armed with the information, and bringing family members with them to help, most of the officers decided to try and find the clothing first­­­coats, shirts and pants, and socks. Knowing that the toy department would capture the children’s attention and most of the time, the adults made the decision to start with the less fun stuff.
“We usually try to buy a coat, hat, gloves and shoes, if they need them, before anything else,” explained Kohls. “Then once the essentials are out of the way, the kids are able to shop with what is left, and that is around a hundred or a little less.”
Once in the toy department, the children are wide­eyed and happy, seeing all the toys they have wanted all season, but weren’t in the possible realm until now. Again it is up to the adults to help the child hone down the want list to the really, really want list, and pile those toys into the cart. By the time the officers herded the happy shoppers to check out, the children had picked out what they wanted for themselves and their family members. Then it was on to the FOP lodge for lunch.
“Our three wonderful sponsors are Target, Krogers, and Papa John’s,” said Kohls. “Papa John’s donated lunch for our hungry crew. So when we were done shopping, we went back to the Lodge in Woodlawn and listened to music and ate lunch. Some years we wrap presents, too.”
The enthusiasm of the children spilled over at the Lodge. Some ran around and played with the other children, and a couple pulled out specific gifts to inspect and play with, such as Pokemon cards. They eventually settled down to eat lunch, but the air was festive.
“This is my favorite thing to do with kids,” said Officer Renee South. “I mean, I like to shop anyway, and so doing it with kids that don’t get to shop much is even better. It is fun stuff. And Target is so generous.”
So, 21 kids got to experience the magic of Christmas through the generosity of the community, from the Police to the stores and the sponsors, who were all glad to show that they care enough to make that magic happen.
Story & photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN Contributor
Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Lieutenant Colonel David Garnick brought his own daughters, Ashleigh, 10 and Kaitlyn, 13, to help shop with Paige Daly, 9.