Donations for the Harrisburg Fraternal Order of Police No. 152 Shop With a Cop program are coming in slow this year, according to police.
Part of the reason may be about half the solicitation letters sent out to donors of the past have been returned for having a wrong address.
The union has assembled another list and sent new letters out. Police invite anyone who would like to send a donation to mail a check made out to "Shop With a Cop Fraternal Order of Police" and mail them to P.O. Box 152, Harrisburg, Ill. 62946.
The shopping begins with a breakfast at 7 a.m. for the Harrisburg group and 8 a.m. for the other schools in the county on Dec. 17. Police try to pick 15 youngsters from each school in the county and buy for their siblings. The group meets at Wal-Mart to shop for clothing, a toy and other Christmas presents for kids who are recommended by teachers as having a need.
Typically, by this time each year the number of kids to shop for is set, but donations have not arrived to meet the need. Usually, the number of last minute donations provides for all.
"We did really good last year," Sgt. Todd Cavender said.
Police served over 269 children last year.
But Chief Bob Smith is nervous about the number of letters returned to sender.
"As we get closer and closer to the day, I know unless we get some more from last year, the donations are half what they were last time," Smith said.
Smith said as a union officer and as chief, Shop With a Cop can either make or break his holiday spirit.
"I';ve done it 19 years now. One year out of 19 I';ve missed and I know it sounds silly, but my whole holiday season was ruined," Smith said.
"It was eight or nine years ago and I didn';t go to one Shop With a Cop. It ruined my whole holiday season. I was like a grinch the rest of the time."
The program not only gives kids in need of clothing and something fun to unwrap from under the Christmas tree, but it also provides positive exposure to police officers. Few kids will forget the officer, deputy, trooper, correctional officer, dispatcher, clerical worker or U.S. Forest Service Officer who helps them shop for Christmas gifts.
DeNeal receives e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.