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Popular Cops 4 Kids returns for a 4th year

As we inch closer to Christmas and gift giving, the Kenmare Police Department is hoping you consider the charitable program Cops 4 Kids.

10/31/17 (Tue)

As we inch closer to Christmas and gift giving, the Kenmare Police Department is hoping you consider the charitable program Cops 4 Kids.

Officers in the department use donations to take underprivileged children Christmas shopping for toys as well as warm clothing.

According to Sgt. Allisha Britton, Kenmare Cops 4 Kids is going into its fourth year. She said there is an ideal number of participants at 45. Last year 43 kids participated, in 2015 it was 48 and the inaugural year, 2014, 35 kids were involved.

To help bring exposure to the program, Britton, and partner Sgt. Chris Almlie, have placed lock boxes around town for the convenience of those who want to donate to the program.

An acrylic box with the words “Cops 4 Kids” has been placed at the following businesses: Gartner’s Jack & Jill, Cenex C-Store, Gathering Grounds, State Bank and Trust of Kenmare, Town & Country Credit Union, Beer Bob’s, City Limits Tavern, Dave’s Place, M&K’s Pizza Hub, The Kenmare News, Napa Auto Parts and Kenmare City Hall.

“There are a few people who don’t know about it,” Britton said. “The first year we took the parents, but decided it would be better to get the kids involved. It gives us more of a one-on-one with the children as we walk around the store.”

The Kenmare PD has been using Kmart in Minot as the shopping destination. Britton said Kmart has created some special incentives just for the Kenmare group and the kids certainly seem to enjoy the large department store.

Those incentives include opening the store two hours early on a Sunday morning, so the children can shop uninterrupted and be first in line when the store opens at noon to pay for their gifts, since North Dakota law doesn’t allow sales before noon on Sunday.

Of those purchases, Kmart honors a 10-percent discount on all merchandise and 15 percent on winter clothing.

The program also divvies up Kenmare Bucks so money can be spent locally.

Britton said the plan has been to spend 60 percent of the funds at Kmart and 40 percent on Kenmare Bucks.

Determining who’s eligible comes from recommendations around town, according to Britton. She said the ideal number is 45, but as stated earlier, the number will deviate slightly.

When Cops 4 Kids began in 2014, $4,044 was spent at the Minot Kmart store and $3,206 went to Kenmare Bucks.

In 2015, $3,600 was spent at Kmart and $1,200 on Kenmare Bucks.

Last year, 43 kids were recipients of $4,300 spent at Kmart and $2,580 in Kenmare Bucks. That translated to $100 for each child at Kmart and $60 for each kid with Kenmare Bucks.

“We take the money and divide it up among the number of kids we have,” Britton said. “And they can spend that money on whatever they want.”

In addition, the parents are provided some of the funding to purchase warm winter clothing for the children.

Britton added the caveat that not all of that money was donated from the public. She said Kenmare businesses have been generous and some grants are available to help out.

She named Operation Round Up through Burke-Divide Electric and Vets Gaming as generous benefactors.

“We do it when the kids go on break the week before Christmas,” Britton said. “And we’ll take donations until the Friday before Christmas when the banks close.”

In the first two years of the program, some of the kids were taken to Minot in police cars, but the debate came up about the legality of it.

Last year they got over that hiccup when the school donated the use of a bus to transport the children to Minot and back.

“The school loaned us a mini-bus,” Britton said. “Rob Shelton drove the bus for those without transportation.”

According to Britton, Kenmare PD likes to carry out the shopping spree on the Sunday immediately before Christmas, making the best attempt to do it while the kids are on Christmas break from school.

This year that Sunday happens to be Christmas Eve, so rather than disrupting that valuable family time, she said she and Almlie will most likely do it the week earlier, which would be Dec. 17, adding they may decide to do it on Dec. 16 as well. An announcement will be made when it gets closer to Christmas.

Being the custodian of the program and its funding, Britton believes it’s an important part of the community at Christmas time.

As far as how the kids react in her words, well, that goes without saying.

“They walk around the store and they really enjoy it,” she said. “It allows us to get to know the kids better.” ...  Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!