By Colin Foster
TROY — Law enforcement officials protect and serve the people, they put their lives on the line daily and they give out tickets and citations to law-breakers.
But when it comes to the holiday season, law enforcement officials in Miami County are giving in a different way.
Officers from all over Miami County and representatives from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office were out at Meijer Friday evening assisting families and children on their hunt for Christmas gifts. This year, the Christmas Outreach Program and Services assisted 40 families and 78 children, providing every child with a $100 budget for Christmas gifts.
“The reward is seeing the children’s faces when we go in with the presents — that’s what we get out of this,” said Billie Ray, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “A lot of these kids wouldn’t have a decent Christmas if our organization, and other organizations in other counties, didn’t do this.
“Police officers and firefighters and paramedics and rescue people, we go out and risk our lives daily, but we are also about giving. Police officers don’t just give tickets — we give too.”
There were officers from Troy, Piqua, Tipp City, West Milton and Covington on hand Friday, along with people from the Miami County Juvenile Detention Center, Adult Parole Authorities, the Victim Witness Program and even Santa made an appearance.
And this coming Wednesday, it will truly be Christmas come early for the children who were apart of Friday’s event.
Following the Meijer shopping spree, people who assisted with the project gathered at F.O.P. Lodge No. 58 in Troy to wrap gifts. This Wednesday, two teams will gather in police cruisers accompanied by Santa and present each child with their gifts, though they are only allowed to open one that night.
“The children that are being shopped for tonight will get a visit from Santa Wednesday,” Ray said.
A large portion of the funds to make C.O.P.S. possible come from a golf outing they hold in July. This year’s outing raised more than $4,000. The program also takes private donations and donations from Meijers. C.O.P.S. runs in assistance with the Miami County Children’s Services, Miami County Home Builders, Ronald McDonald House (Dayton and Cincinnati). If interested in making a donation, contact Ray at (937) 332-6807 or at (937) 603-2365.
“It means so much,” Ray said. “It’s a lot of work that all the guys at the lodge do and put into this, but it’s well worth it — and it’s very rewarding.”