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W.Va. police have soft spot for kids

December 14, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Christmas will be brighter this year for nearly 200 needy children in the Eastern Panhandle area thanks to the generosity of local police.

Every year, local police raise money through different projects and campaigns and use the money to buy children Christmas gifts or school supplies.

On Dec. 2, about 25 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 83, which represents officers in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties, went to the Kmart on Winchester Avenue and helped 100 children pick out gifts, said Sgt. Tom Hansen of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Each child was able to pick out $100 worth of gifts, which amounted to a $10,000 give away by the police organization, Hansen said.

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Wednesday night, the Berkeley County Deputy Sheriff's Association took to the local Kmart, looking to purchase Christmas gifts for about 80 needy children, said Ted Snyder, spokesman for the group.

The children who benefited from Wednesday's night's shopping spree were selected by the National Youth Advocate Program, which works with foster children, Snyder said.

The children filled out wish lists and about 10 local police officers and other adults came to the store to shop for the items, Snyder said.

Cpl. Steve Vigh of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department had a shopping list for a 7-year-old boy and a 6-year-old boy. Vigh's shopping car was filling up with pants, shirts, sleds, a football and other gifts and his girlfriend and other family members were joining him for the shopping.

Vigh said he likes doing the shopping because the program is a great help to kids.

"You're only a kid for a while then you grow up," Vigh said.

Some of the shoppers picked out items they liked, then picked some items from the wish lists.

"We try to get them something nice to wear, then get some toys," Vigh said.

Deputy C.K. Gibbons of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department had her work cut out for her.

The child she was shopping for wanted a Power Rangers figure. And it had to be on a motorcycle. And it had to be blue or green.

"Good luck," another shopper yelled out to Gibbons as she thoroughly searched the aisles in search for the toy.

A Kmart employee later helped Gibbons in the search and they eventually found a Power Rangers figure on a motorcycle.

"But it's not blue or green," Gibbons said. "That will have to do."

The toys were to be loaded onto a truck after the shopping and then delivered to the kids, Snyder said.

The Berkeley County Deputy Sheriff's Association paid for the gifts through a department calendar which generated money through ad sales, Snyder said.

The organization also raised money through a telephone fundraising campaign, said Snyder, adding to the two efforts raised about $18,000.

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