Child Protective Services and street cops most often see the worst that society can do to children, sometimes through misfortune...but mostly through neglect and abuse.
The names of those children are submitted by both of these agencies, and every Christmas the local Fraternal Order of Police carries out an event known as "Shop with a Cop".
This event is funded entirely by checks from private citizens, concerned local businesses, one spectacular charitable foundation in particular, and the cops themselves, and it has grown every year in dollars, officers, and children.
This year, more than 40 cops came together at 7 a.m. while many of you slept and held the hands of over 80 elementary-age school kids and took them on a shopping spree that in most cases they would've never had an opportunity to take otherwise...an event where disadvantaged kids get to do something nice with a cop, instead of only seeing them in a time of stress, if not tragedy. I could say it’s all “for the kids”, but I assure you…this is for your local cops as well.
I say it every year, but it's always true: This year was the most successful ever in our eyes, and it was a little more touching than usual given the horror that transpired the day before in Connecticut, which overrode another story slightly closer to home in which that same morning Memphis police officer Martoiya Lang, only 32 years old and a mother of four, lost her life in the line of duty, her partner being seriously wounded by gunshots as well.
This year it was different holding a little girl's hand as we cruised those aisles, surrounded by all these other children who were there with such hope in their eyes.
Behind every smile on every cop, parent, foster parent, and social worker was that hint of sadness from yesterday, the feeling of reality that dawns on you when you realize the nightmare from the day before is actually a reality that will never, ever go completely away. But this event blocked it out, if for just a little while. This event was “Good” in the most pure and simple meaning of the word.
Today, we held those little hands a little tighter, and for a little bit longer…and not without a few tears here and there as we appreciated this event more than maybe any other year since it was cast in the shadow of something so dark just the day before. And long before it was over – maybe even the instant it began? That shadow was cast away. There were no “bad guys” here - just good ones. Very good ones.
Besides the members (and family members) of Rock City Lodge #22, this event never could have taken place without those amazing workers at Child Protective Services and the stunning generosity of the local Miller (Industries) Foundation that literally makes this possible, as well as the Target store on Gunbarrel Road that both contributes and hosts this event and the Gunbarrel Chick-fil-A that fed us afterwards.
On behalf of the local Rock City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, let me give thanks to all the volunteers...and thanks to those kids who were there to remind us all of what we fight for, and in reality, what we live for.
Sgt. Craig W. Joel
1st Vice President, Rock City Lodge #22
Chattanooga Police Officer
-Shop with a Cop is not subsidized by tax dollars. This program is only made possible by donations to the fund. The FOP extends its deepest gratitude to the Miller Foundation, Target, Chick-Fil-A, and the individual donors who helped make this year's event a huge success. Donations are collected throughout the year, and anyone interested in making a donation to the SHOP WITH A COP fund can contact the local FOP at 423 504-7719 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Sgt. Toby Hewitt, president, Fraternal Order of Police Rock City Lodge 22)
- Photo2 by Nathan Hartwig