Cops shop for local families | News, Sports, Jobs


Above: Captain Eric Tonder of the Fairmont Police Department, along with other officers, visit Walmart in Fairmont on Tuesday. Officers had been shopping for local families during the “Shop with a Cop” event.

FAIRMONT– In keeping with tradition, the annual Fairmont Police Department Shop with a Cop was held on Tuesday. This year’s event saw some changes, some really good changes.

Sergeant Jaime Bleess said he bought seven families this year. Between these seven families, there were 24 children.

Bleess said the recipients are families that members of the department have met and come to know or know while living in the community and who need additional help.

“It’s not really a formal application process, we just select them” Bless said.

In previous years, children would go to the store with agents and choose gifts for themselves and their families. Last year, due to Covid restrictions, officers went shopping on their own to minimize contact. This route was chosen again this year.

Bleess met with the mothers of each family and let them know that their family had been selected. He then asked what the kids wanted to make sure they chose the items they wanted.

Bleess said Shop with a Cop is in its 12th year. It was started locally by longtime policeman Brad Buhmann. While Buhmann is now retired, working as a community service worker, he still participates in the event.

Buhmann explained why Shop with a Cop was first launched.

“The ministry could see that there were many families in need but too proud to ask for help. “

In the first year, they had a budget of $ 500 to work, so they spent about $ 100 for each child. The money would come from donations from the Fairmont Police Officer Association, the Fairmont Lions Club and individual donors.

Bleess said this year that they approached Walmart and asked for a grant of $ 1,000 and Walmart came back to them with a grant of $ 2,000.

“In the past years, families of officers have volunteered to wrap the gifts. This year, Walmart staff are packing them ”, Bless said.

Emily, a trainer at Walmart in Fairmont, said: “Some are associates currently on time, others are associates who have volunteered to come at their own pace. “

Asked about Walmart’s generosity, she replied: “Anything we can do to give back to the community. This is what Walmart is all about.

Bleess said Walmart employees also gathered a collection of their own money and assembled Christmas food baskets to give to each of the seven families.

“This is in addition to the $ 2,000 the company gave us”, Bless said.

The Fairmont Lions Club also donated to the cause this year.

“The good thing about this program is how much it has grown. “ Bless said. “We usually have four or five kids and four or five cops. This year we have 14 cops here shopping for 24 kids.

Once the purchases were completed and the gifts wrapped, the officers packed their patrol cars and delivered the gifts to the families.

Bleess said that ultimately police enter the profession to help people, and they often end up helping people in their worst day.

“This year we had the most officers participating because I think we are all happy to help people on a good day. It was as important a gift for us as it was for the families. It was a good way for us to end our year. he said.

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