News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

December 15, 2013

Kids & Police

Clothes, toys, holiday spirit: Kids shop with police

TERRE HAUTE — The smiles on children’s faces said it all, as they raced through the aisles of Walmart South to pick out Duck Dynasty shirts, glittery high tops, Monster High dolls and other coveted toys.

“I’m happy,” said Timothy Haley, 12, who had just finished purchasing $100 worth of clothing, a toy and shoes — and two Nestle Crunch bars — compliments of “Kids’ Christmas with Police.”

The annual shopping event is sponsored by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 85, which raises the money from the community.

This year, 203 children each got to shop for $100 worth of items.

While most kids immediately headed to the toy section, Haley’s first stop was to buy some clothes, which included jeans, tennis shoes, socks and a Duck Dynasty shirt.

Then, he headed to the kids’ section, where he carefully selected Legends of the West Durango toy cap pistols and a holster.

“You got those down?” he asked Kurt Brinegar, a Terre Haute Police Department patrolman, who accompanied the family and kept track of expenditures. Then, it was back to the clothing area for a few more items.

Haley was dressed up and even wore a tie; he was going to participate in a church program later in the day.

The 12-year-old was accompanied by his mom, Angela Haley, a two-month old sister, Sophia, and his grandmother, Esther Hedden. “I think it’s great,” Angela Haley said of the Kids Shopping with Police program. “He really needs this stuff.”

Brinegar stayed close by, asking Timothy where he went to school and praising him for a smart purchase. “That will keep you good and warm,” he told the 12-year-old after he had picked out another shirt.

After Timothy had finished his shopping and checked out, Brinegar went to assist another family. He enjoys being part of the program.

“You see the kids smiling and laughing and having a great time. It’s great to have kids like him [Timothy] especially, who pay attention to what they are doing. It gives them a sense of responsibility,” Brinegar said. “I don’t see any kid that’s not smiling who’s been through here, and that’s awesome. That’s what Christmas is about.”

Kids’ Christmas with Police gives officers a chance to interact and shop with children who may not otherwise have as good of a holiday season as other children, said Pete Horstman, president of the FOP Lodge 85. Names are provided by the Salvation Army.

About 20 law enforcement officers from Vigo County participated (the lodge includes members from various law enforcement agencies). Also this year, several dozen Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology fraternity members assisted.

The shopping was from 7 to 9 a.m., but a line had already formed by 6:30 a.m. The goal is to give children a nice Christmas, Horstman said. “To see their faces, especially when we tell them it’s $100 per child, they just light up,” Horstman said.

Also shopping Sunday were Jayda Sharp, 9, and her sister, Katana, 11. Both picked out glittery high tops. “Mine are prettier,” Katana said.

In the toy department, Katana called out, “Mom, I found one.” She selected a Baby Alive doll, while Jayda picked out Glitzi Globes.

“This is so neat,” said their mother, Tonya Flora. Police “take their time out to do this for the children. I think it’s awesome.”

She’s a single mom who has two other, older children to purchase for — and the shopping with police program helps out a lot.

The family was accompanied by Brent Heaton, a THPD patrolman. “It’s fun,” he said. “It’s a neat way to spend some time and show a lot of these kids that cops aren’t just the guys that take people to jail.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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