By James Cook, Times Editor
As the bitter cold and snow flurries filled the air outside the kind of warmth inside the Winchester Wal-Mart did not come from the store’s heating units only. Last Thursday the Red River FOP Lodge #70 treated 131 children from Powell County to their annual Shop with a Cop Program. Children from all three elementary schools were on hand, as the officers and volunteers took them around to pick out gifts and clothes. It is one way to help make sure that those you may not get much will enjoy Christmas this year.
The program has become a main stay for the area and it has grown every year. “We have 131 kids this year,” FOP Lodge 70 President Denny Frazier said as he watched the kids and officers go up and down the aisles looking for gifts. “It seems like every year we get more kids and every year we have been able to meet their need.”
One little girl asked if she was allowed to get pajamas because she really needed something to sleep in. When told she could, she got a pair, plus a pair of shoes and a dress, what many consider to be basic things, she considered a gift. “Many of these kids come from homes that do not consider cops as friends,” Frazier said. “But after spending about an hour with them, we get a better understanding of them and they realize we are not bad, we want to help them.”
The program depends on monetary donations for the most part. But a concert put on by Bluegrass music legend J.D. Crowe late last month helped to raise over $6,000. Crowe performed for free so that all the money raised would go for the program. “It helped push us over the top,” Frazier said, “we really appreciate it. We don’t hold fundraisers per say, but people donate and that helps us.”
There has been some talk of maybe holding more concerts outside in the spring or summer. Places like Tanner Time Farm have been mentioned as possible venues, to help raise money for the cause.
“It is good to see the kids faces light up and then we have middle school kids here helping and to see the look on their faces as they get to help is great,” Frazier added. “We love to help them and this program means so much to them and the community. We love doing it. After helping with this, you can’t help but get that Christmas spirit flowing.”