The Fraternal Order of Police New River Valley Lodge 21 (104 Pulaski Street) teamed with Marine Corps League/Toys for Tots to hold the annual “Cops and Kids” shopping event last weekend. Nineteen kids of all ages came from all over the region hosted by the lodge to buy gifts for themselves and others.
The young people, some as young as five, teamed up with an NRV officer and Radford Transit provided transportation from the lodge to the WalMart.
“After that, we round ‘em all back up and go back to the lodge for a party with Santa and everybody wraps their packages. We have pizza and the kids mingle with the officers,” Lee Wensel, senior conservation police office and president of the FOP lodge said.
The lodge raises funds all autumn to support this bonding effort.
“It’s always a good time,” Wensel said.
The goal of the annual event is to connect kids, who may not have good interactions with police, come to know police as friendly and helpful, and helps the police too.
“This effort can give kids some “face time” with real officers and help them both understand each other,” he said. “Everybody comes home with a warm feeling.”
Participating officers included: Joshua Moore, John Koloda, Mark Shaw, Andy Rutledge, Mark Brewer, Chad Journel, Paul T. Vison, J.J. Johnson, Mason Boggess, Derek Reece, Aaron Hamblin, Derek Perkins, Jason Ratcliffe, Mark Collins, John Croteau, Robbie Smith, Alan Anderson, Barry Hale, Megan Jennings, Tracy Smith, Drew Szerokman, Shannon Hinton, Lee Wensel; Karen LaPlante, Radford CSA and Mack Wolfe, Toys for Tots.