Eighty-five children were accompanied by officers from every law enforcement and safety agency in the county to shop for Christmas presents at Walmart for themselves and their families.
The Beaver County Sheriff’s Office brought a dozen children as well, and Sgt. Laura David said although this is only her second year coming to Cedar City for the event, she was impressed with the community and how smoothly everything went for the children.
Children were allowed to spend $100 on toys and gifts, but Sgt. Mike Berg with the Enoch Police Department said in all the years he has been involved with the program the children come wanting to buy for their families first.
“Every kid I’ve ever had is more worried about their families than themselves,” he said. “Sometimes you have to force them to buy for themselves.”
The 11-year-old-boy accompanying Berg this year was no exception.
“He was so concerned about getting something for his mom, we couldn’t get on with shopping for him until we had her gift,” he said.
The boy and his mother are having a rough time and she did not have transportation to get the boy to Walmart where all the kids met with their officers at 6 a.m., so Berg said they went to pick the boy up.
After they all meet at Walmart, all the kids and officers from every agency ride in the cars, trucks and ambulances with sirens and lights blazing to Canyon View High School where the Lady Elks and BACA put on a special breakfast.
Berg said the mom of the boy walked to CVHS so she could share in the event, after which they brought her to Walmart so she could share in the fun her son was having.
“We try to make it a great experience for the whole family,” Berg said. “It’s great for kids too because when they have had some, well, not too key experiences with the law, this really makes for a great day where we can heal and build some bridges.”
Officer Addison Adams from Cedar City Animal Control, toted an Easy Bake Oven around the toy aisle as his little girl for the morning made up her mind, and said the event is fun and a privilege to be involved in.
Lawrence Twitchell with Utah State Parks Division of Natural Resources said the children love riding in the cars with the sirens on, and in the end, the experience is overwhelmingly positive for the whole community.
“A lot of these kids have had some experiences with law enforcement that were not for pleasant reasons,” he said. “This helps the kids realize that the police are nice and people who can help and not someone to be afraid of.”
Berg said he always brings his own children along for the morning, and this year they were vying for the privilege to go. His 12-year-old daughter Madi won out and told Berg she wanted to go to share in the service and get the Christmas spirit seeing people who won’t have to worry about Christmas this year.
“It means a lot to a parent to have their child say that,” he said. “So this is really a privilege for me to do this in a lot of ways.”
Cedar City Police Sgt. David Bulloch said they could not make the day happen without partners like Chili’s, Winger’s, Lupita’s, Sonny Boy’s Barbecue, Applebee’s and Pizza Factory where they do the Tip a Cop fundraisers that primarily pay for the day.
“Something like this just can’t happen without a lot of people getting involved and helping out,” he said.
After the children have chosen their gifts, volunteers including the Cedar City Youth Council, CHS Student Council and three waitresses from Wingers worked all morning to wrap the gifts for both Iron and Beaver Counties and Nevada Law Enforcement who come in later in the morning.
Katherine Rodriguez, Emily Gayson and Heidi Cummings loved participating in Tip a Cop so much they wanted to come help with the day.
“We loved the whole idea so much we wanted to see the end result and especially the kids,” Gayson said. “It was way early, but it is so worth it.”
“We are just so happy to be here,” Rodriguez said.
Bulloch thanked the community partners like Lupita’s, which donated $500, and all the employees in the restaurants who donated their tips. He also said the officers are always willing to help and to come to the fundraisers and do anything they can to make the whole day a success.