Fostoria cops are ready to shop

Fostoria Police Division is again working to spread holiday cheer.

Its annual Christmas with a Cop program will provide eight local underprivileged students — and their families — with gifts this year.

The group of youth, from Fostoria City Schools, are selected from a list of first- through sixth-graders provided by their teachers. Those selected — who have not been duplicated in the past — will meet with Fostoria police officers this month to shop for presents for themselves and their families.

The group of youngsters, along with their officer friends, will meet at Fostoria Elementary School to travel together via SCAT to Walmart in Tiffin, where the cops will help them shop for Christmas gifts for their families.

“It’s unfortunate — we didn’t want to go out of town to shop — but with Kmart closing we needed another store that had a variety of options to offer for the kids,” Fostoria Police Officer Adam Nelson, organizer, said. “We didn’t want to not do it. This program isn’t meant for us to just collect money and then give it to families. We want these kids to experience the joy of shopping for their families and hand-picking out items. A lot of the kids we help don’t have the opportunity to do this and some of them are already asking their parents what they want for Christmas. They put a lot of thought and heart into it and it’s nice to see them get to experience that.”

The children have a set amount of money they can spend on each family member. After their Christmas shopping is complete, they will head back to FES, where they will wrap the presents and eat a pizza lunch. Each child will go home with their neatly wrapped presents to place under their trees, awaiting Christmas morning.

This year will be a test run to see how everything goes with the trip to Tiffin as well as to see how it might need to change to make the program run smoother in years to come.

In addition to giving these kids and their families a Christmas, Nelson said the program is also about officers interacting with the children.

“We want to give them that one-on-one experience with an officer to show them that we’re just another person who also has a family and does Christmas shopping,” he said. “We want to give them that kind of exposure to us so they know we’re humans too, not just police officers.

“The officers help the kids shop and then help them wrap. If they’re out patrolling, they often stop by and help when they can and they really do enjoy it.”

FPD is still accepting monetary donations as well as wrapping necessities, such as wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and tape.

Donations can be dropped off at the Fostoria police station, 213 S. Main St. Checks can be made payable to Fostoria FOP with “Christmas with a Cop” in the memo line.

“A lot more people have come forward and given us donations and we really appreciate it,” Nelson said. “We couldn’t keep doing this if it wasn’t for donations from businesses and community members. Any little bit helps. And 100% of the donations go into that Christmas with a Cop fund. We don’t use that money on anything else.”