Photo submitted – Mike Bulger, Chris Mahoney, Lee Smith and Eric Bulger from Cruise-Inn Little Falls pose with Santa.

Staff Report

The Little Falls PD headed to Wal-Mart last Wednesday evening to participate in the “Shop with a Cop” holiday event, where kids in need got a chance to pick out holiday gifts for themselves and their families.

Kids were accompanied by an officer who escorted them throughout the store, helping them think about and make gift selections, assisting them with budgeting and checking out and wrapping their gifts.

Participating kids were identified from local schools, Kinds Oneida and the community in general. Santa Claus made a visit to the store and was part of the shopping spree.

Police departments from Herkimer, Mohawk, Ilion and Little Falls took part in the event. Uniformed officers were paired with a child and accompanied them throughout the store. Programs like this occur throughout the country and are a great way to break down barriers and start to build bridges between law enforcement and youth.

Mike Bulger with Cruise-Inn Little Falls said “This event has been going on for years, but this is the first time that Little Falls has gotten a chance to participate.”

Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory stated “This is one event that our Department can’t wait for each year. It gives our officers one-on-one time with kids where they are able to have friendly conversation, build trust and they really get to know the kids a bit better. This is important when they see these kids and families out in the community after the event. Being familiar with law enforcement and putting a face to the name goes a long way in building better towns and cities.”

Steve Bulger, Executive Director of Kids Oneida, added, “This is a great way to enhance our Adopt-a-Family effort in a very hands-on way. Kids getting a chance to purchase their own gifts for their families is very empowering and being able to spend time with an officer while shopping is a big bonus.”

Walmart, Kids Oneida (from their Adopt-a-Family Campaign) and the Cruise-Inn Little Fall Cruise Marina all contributed to make this event a possibility.

Photos submitted