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Cops 4 Kids helps 35 families have a better Christmas

A new Cops 4 Kids program started this year in Kenmare exceeded its $5,000 goal by 25 percent.

12/30/14 (Tue)

Cops who shop... Kenmare police officers from left; Jason Cartier, Allisha Britton and Kyle Kienholz, assist with the parents of children in a Cops 4 Kids shopping spree Dec. 20. Kienholz started the fundraiser in November so 35 Kenmare-area children would have a better Christmas.

By Marvin Baker

A new Cops 4 Kids program started this year in Kenmare exceeded its $5,000 goal by 25 percent.

Officer Kyle Kienholz who created the program based on a model he learned about in college, wanted to raise enough money so 30 children would have a better Christmas.

The Kenmare community responded in a much bigger way, he said, helping raise $7,500 in about a month.

That provided a spending budget of $150 for each of 35 children, plus it gave the parents of those children an additional $80 in Kenmare Bucks to spend as they wish in the community.

No strings attached, according to Kienholz, just some Christmas cheer that all of us need this time of year.

Of the total funds raised, he said $4,044 was spent at Kmart in Minot to purchase toys, articles of clothing, or whatever the children may have wanted or needed for Christmas.

An additional $3,206 was handed out to the families in Kenmare Bucks in an effort to keep some of the money raised, in the community.

“About half that money raised comes back into town,” Kienholz said. “As long as the townspeople know that about half will be spent in town, this could be a huge success.”

That means that money can be spent at any business in town that accepts Kenmare Bucks. So, if a family wants to go out for pizza, they can do that. If a young child wants a bicycle, they can do that too with a longer timeline to make the expenditures.

After the decision was made to make the Minot department store the destination, Kienholz said the Kmart staff went “over the top” to provide good customer service for the Kenmare group.

He said the store was open for the public at large and the Kenmare group was shopping just like anyone else, however, there were some added perks.

“They catered to us,” Kienholz said. “It was very well organized and they opened extra tills for us. And they made five boxes of pizza for us. It was very busy, but they still treated us well.”

During that same time, Kenmare officers Jason Cartier and Allisha Britton were walking around among the families, keeping some of that organization on somewhat of a time schedule.

The way the whole program worked is Kienholz started with placing small buckets with the Cops 4 Kids name on it, requesting the public make goodwill donations to the cause.

Shortly thereafter, larger donations from businesses and individuals began coming in. An article about the fundraiser appeared in The Kenmare News, some public service ads aired on area radio stations, Arlen Gartner, with Kenmare’s Gift of Love program, and the school, provided a list of needy children to Kienholz and finally, the parents were contacted.

Unlike numerous other police programs that are similar, Kienholz thought it would be best for the parents to shop rather than the children. He said the parents would make better decisions about items needed, rather than items wanted.

The entire group met in the gym adjacent to City Hall, Kienholz briefed everyone and they took the trip Dec. 20 to Minot.

“I didn’t want to take anything away from the parents,” he said. “One lady couldn’t thank us enough. She didn’t think her kids were going to have a Christmas.”

This inaugural program wasn’t pulled off by just three police officers, according to Kienholz. There were numerous others who provided funding, wrote grants, gave advice and helped organize the event.

“For the first time, it went really smooth,” Kienholz said. “We beat our goal for money, we beat our goal for the number of kids we could help. Now, we know what we are doing.”

One of the things Kienholz said was unique during the shopping trip, is that Kmart staff used their intercom system to let all the shoppers know that the Kenmare Police Department was on site. He said that will help with the Cops 4 Kids public relations effort.

“Yeah, there’s that word of mouth that got out there,” Kienholz said. “They said the police are here, the Kenmare people are here.”

Kienholz is ready to do this again and fully expects that he will. He said he put his name on this program so he wanted to do everything in his power to make sure it was successful.

That included making a promise that if the financial goal was met, he would allow one of the donors to tase him with his service taser. Now he has to keep his word.

“To get a 3-second tase for the money we raised, I’ll do it,” Kienholz said. “It was a huge success and I can definitely see this happening again.”

Cops 4 Kids thanks the following for their support of this inaugural program.

Vets Gaming, American Well Service, Burke-Divide Electric, Town & Country Credit Union, Kenmare Public Schools, The Kenmare News, KMOT-TV, 1st International Bank and Trust, Ackerman-Estvold, Beer Bob’s, Dave’s Place, Cenex, City Limits, Nazareth Lutheran Church, Kmart, Troy and Stacie Hedberg, Paige Vick, Tori Kling, Scott and Roger Ness and Arlen Gartner.

Without these sponsors, the Cops 4 Kids Christmas shopping spree wouldn’t have been possible, according to Kenmare police officer Kyle Kienholz, who spearheaded the event... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!