Police host second annual Cops Target Kids event

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 22, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — Most of the time, when you see a police car with blue lights on and siren blaring, something is wrong.
But things were going very right Saturday for 24 children, as they rode in a motorcade of patrol cars from Kannapolis Middle School to the Target store at Afton Ridge shopping center.
Onlookers pulled their cars over along the way, and some waved and took pictures.
At the shopping center, a welcoming committee of red-shirted Target staff members greeted the kids, each of whom was paired with a police officer and, in many cases, the officer’s family.
It was the second annual Cops Target Kids event, created by Kannapolis Police as a way for law enforcement officers to give back to local children and families at the holidays.
“This is the big moment for me,” said Sgt. Daniel Wallace as children and police fanned out through the store Saturday morning.
Wallace helped get Cops Target Kids started in 2012. Last year, officers raised money to take 19 children shopping. This year, they grew that number to 24.
Officers raised money among themselves and from local businesses, with Target itself playing a major role.
Wallace said over two-thirds of the money raised came from the officers themselves.
Each child had $250 to spend on clothing and Christmas gifts — at least half of it to go to clothing, shoes or coats as needed.
The children were nominated by guidance counselors at local schools, chosen from among families who weren’t receiving assistance from other programs at the holidays.
Parents and guardians gave lists of items needed, along with sizes, to the police officers assigned to their children, since the items purchased cannot be returned to the store for cash or credit.
For Lana and Will Williams, it was their first time going shopping without their parents.
Lana, 7, said she hoped to find a doll of Ariel, from “The Little Mermaid.”
Will’s sights were set on video games, but clothes shopping had to come first for most of the kids.
Their dad, Shawn Williams, said this Christmas was going to be difficult, as an injury he’d sustained on the job had made it difficult to work.
Williams and wife Erin said the Kannapolis Police were “like angels.”
Shawn Williams said that, while some people criticize the police, “we support them, and it’s nice to see how they’re willing to support us.”
In the end, Lana ended up finding not just Ariel, but a whole set of Disney Princess dolls on sale, along with blue jeans and other clothes and toys.
Officer Seth Killion and his wife, Julie, were paired up with Lana. This was their first time taking part in the holiday shopping program.
“It’s something we wanted to be a part of,” Seth Killion said.
“This is so fabulous,” said Therese Roberts, executive team leader for human resources at the Target store at Afton Ridge.
“The Kannapolis Police Dept. and Target have worked very closely together all year long, and it’s been great that we’ve been able to sponsor more kids this year,” Roberts said.
Two restaurants in the shopping center, Chick-Fil-A and Fatz Café, also provided breakfast and lunch, respectively.
And there was a special appearance by Santa Claus at the end of the shopping trip, back at Kannapolis Middle School.
Officer Derek Shaffer struck up a conversation with Kohl Moore, 8, on the ride through downtown Kannapolis to Target.
He even let Moore get on the loudspeaker as the police caravan pulled in, to wish those around them a merry Christmas.
Shaffer, who joined the force in August 2012, said it was good to be able to give kids a positive experience with law enforcement.
Moore’s grandmother, Julie Robison, said she was grateful for the department’s assistance, as she’s currently raising three of her grandchildren.
In addition to the thousands of dollars officers contributed, Lt. Steve Belk, of the department’s Community Services division, said the majority of the staff who were there – 25 sworn officers and three civilian staff, plus numerous spouses and children – had volunteered to come in on their day off for the cause.
Louis Segreti, age 9, found himself a skateboard and other gifts for Christmas.
He also picked out a gift for his mother.
Montresca Bowen, Segreti’s mom, said the officers’ help at Christmas “feels wonderful.”
For his part, Wallace said there’s no question that Cops Target Kids will continue, and hopefully grow, in years to come.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.