By Natalie Johnsonfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Centralia and Chehalis police departments, the Washington State Patrol and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office have each celebrated Christmas in the past week through programs focusing on children in need of a little holiday cheer.
Eight officers from the Chehalis Police Department and seven WSP troopers combined efforts Tuesday afternoon to shop with 13 local children for presents for their families.
Chehalis Chief Glenn Schaffer participates each year, and was shopping for toys with his assigned child, Spencer, at about 4 p.m. Tuesday.
He said the positive interaction with children in the community keeps him volunteering for the program year after year.
“It’s nothing but positive,” he said.
The department has been doing the event since about 2009 and raises between $1,500 and $2,000 each year for the purpose.
“We raise through donations that our officers make monthly to the police officers association as well as donations from the public,” said Linda Bailey, the department’s public information officer. “The kids were so fantastic this year.”
Centralia had its similar Night Out with Santa event on Saturday. Instead of shopping for relatives with officers, children are given presents and have a party with officers and Santa. Organizers shop for the items beforehand.
“We had 120 kids attend the event along with their parents or other family members,” said Centralia Police Officer Ruben Ramirez, who organizes the event. “We had presents for all the kids, new coats, pajamas, hats and gloves as well as a few other gifts.”
Participating kids ate a meal with officers and watched a holiday movie.
Each family also took home a holiday meal donated by Walmart and a meal certificate from Shop’n Kart. This year’s event was held at the Lewis and Clark Hotel.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office had its shop with a cop event on Dec. 14.
According to the sheriff’s office, 32 deputies and corrections deputies shopped with an equal number of children.
“After shopping, they rode with the deputies back to the sheriff’s office where support staff and volunteers helped the kids wrap their presents,” said Sherri Guenther, an administrative assistant at the sheriff’s office, in an email.
Deputies and their assigned kids had a pizza dinner and played bingo for prizes. There was also a raffle for bicycles and scooters.
“The sheriff, undersheriff and a few others also participated in the evening — the sheriff being our bingo caller,” Guenther said. “It was a fun-filled evening for all!”