Santa with a Badge: Officers give Christmas to children
MARTINSBURG — The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 83 and Target in Martinsburg joined forces once again to provide children in the community with some Christmas cheer.
The Santa with a Badge program allows approximately 125 children to traverse the aisles of Target, selecting just the right gift or gifts for Christmas. More than 20 officers and associate members of the FOP lodge come out to escort the children through the store, keeping track of the $75 each is allotted to spend.
Children in the program were selected using established criteria and from referrals from schools, churches and other parties. After arriving at Target, who has been the partner store with the FOP for the last three years, they met their escorts and started shopping. It was typical to see a dash to the toy aisles where the officers, with notepad in hand, recorded the item and its cost on a tally sheet to make sure each child took full advantage of the amount allotted.
Young Camari Dokes, of Martinsburg, was thrilled to find the video game of his choice still on the shelves, despite the recent Black Friday shopping sprees.
“Put it in the cart and pretend you’re shopping,” laughed his escort, Elizabeth Maloney, who works at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The two then proceeded to the movie aisle where Dokes looked for a good flick.
“I can’t watch Rated-R movies,” Dokes said, as he found a film he had not yet seen and added it to his shopping cart.
Just down a few aisles, Ranson officer Robbie Roberts was trying to keep track of shopping lists for a family of four.
“We divided up and decided who gets to go first and we take turns. It’s one at a time and we have to be patient,” Roberts said for the group. “I just love it. These kids are so much fun and to see their excitement makes it all worth it.”
In addition to the welcome the families received from the officers and Target employees, they were greeted by Bullseye, the Target dog mascot, and the Chick-fil-A cow, who has made a stop at this event part of his holiday tradition. Chick-fil-A partnered again this year with the event to provide the children with breakfast when they completed their shopping.
According to FOP President Chuck Stevens, the event is a favorite among many of the officers, who come back year after year to participate.
“It’s a lot of fun to see these kids get excited about the presents they’re selecting,” he said.
Officers come to participate from Jefferson and Berkeley counties, Martinsburg City, Ranson, Charles Town, Shepherd University and the Reserve units. They take pride in doing something for the children of the community.
Funds for the event have, in the past, been secured through the FOP’s annual solicitation fund drive. Individuals can donate to the program by mailing donations to FOP/Morgan-Berkeley-Jefferson Lodge 83, P.O. Box 2694 Martinsburg, WV 25402.