By Jim Misunas
The smiles said it all.
Deserving youngsters from Barton County and made new friends and renewed old acquaintances during the annual “Cops and Kids,” day at Walmart Saturday.
Twenty children were selected from Barton County to enjoy lunch and shop with local law enforcement officers who are members of the Great Bend Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 23. The afternoon started with a luncheon at Gambino’s of Great Bend before the shopping spree began.
Barton County Community College provided transportation from Gambino’s to Walmart.
Employees of the Family Crisis Center’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Center and Child Advocacy Center provided volunteer assistance. Each volunteer escorted several youngsters at Walmart, where each child could purchase $40 of items of their choice.
The youngsters selected a wide variety of items. Some chose toys or clothes, while others selected video games or an electronic item. The volunteers played the role of Pied Pipers, leading their small groups in the fast-paced shopping trip.
“We might have a made a wrong turn when we looked at clothes first,” said officer Ryan DeYoung. “But the time, the girls saw the toys, we had to start returning some of the clothes. They had a great time.”
Judging from their reaction, the officers enjoyed the experience of giving back to their community just as much as the youngsters.
“They is also a very special occasion for the officers and everyone who assists in making this happen,” said Jay Bachar, FOP Lodge No. 23 president. “This is the first year the FOP added lunch to the agenda. The FOP has done ‘Cops and Kids,’ our version of the trademarked “Shop with a Cop,” for several years.
“We appreciate the support of Gambino’s Pizza, Walmart and Barton County Community College for making this happen,” Bachar said.