Local News

December 27, 2013

‘Cops and Kids’ makes Christmas brighter for four local youngsters

The smile on her face was wide enough to park Rudolph and all his reindeer friends inside as 11-year-old Ally headed straight for the “Duck Dynasty” shirts, where she spotted one with Uncle Si on the front.

She and 8-year-old brother Ryan then made their way to the back of the Walmart store on Shugart Road, where they soon had climbed aboard two of the coolest bikes around.

Meanwhile, Madison, 8, wasted no time heading to the electronics, where she claimed the last 7-inch tablet, but a helpful employee soon located another just like it for her 6-year-old brother, Lucas. Later, Madison added three beautiful baby dolls to her buggy, while Lucas, all boy, was excited about finding a toy gun.

The four local students were the first local recipients of a Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) event called “Cops and Kids” spearheaded by the local FOP Conasauga Lodge 108 to help make Christmas a little brighter for these youngsters who had been suggested by local school counselors.

“It just makes my heart so happy to be able to help kids because we’re all so blessed,” said Sgt. Tammy Silvers of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and the secretary/treasurer of the Conasauga FOP. “We just need to give back to the community, and that’s what we’re trying to do today.”

Just getting to the store proved to be a special adventure for two of the children, who chose to ride in the back of a county patrol car from the Whitfield County Jail right to the front door of Walmart, complete with blue lights flashing.

Once at the store, Deputies Shawn Giles, Angie Lowery, Bill Robbins and Haley Pelfrey — sporting red Santa caps — escorted the kids through Walmart, letting each pick out $100 worth of goodies.

The holiday spirit unexpectedly grew even brighter when a generous shopper in the electronics department noticed what was going on and handed Lucas and Madison each $40 more to spend.

After loading their buggies with Christmas gifts, the four children and their new law enforcement buddies made their way across the street to Academy Sports, where they each had another $40 to spend.

The local Great Clips store added to the festivities by sending brightly decorated boxes packed full of clothes for each of the children. Cagle’s Lawn and Garden in Tunnel Hill also donated gifts for Ally and Ryan, who are students at Tunnel Hill Elementary and Westside Middle.

Silvers said the FOP hopes to make Cops and Kids an annual affair, and based on the enthusiastic response of these local businesses, along with others she’s sure she can recruit in the coming months, she is positive they will be able to help even more children next year.

“The Fraternal Order of Police is an organization of police officers that helps police officers and the community,” said Tammy’s husband, Jeff Silvers, also with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and president of Lodge 108.

He said a similar event helps 30 to 40 kids each year in Walker County, where the community has been very supportive for the past 10 years.

“Once we get the word out here, we feel sure the community will help us make Christmas a little brighter for even more youngsters,” Tammy Silvers said. “We appreciate so much the help of Walmart, Academy Sports and Great Clips, and our mystery shopper who surprised us with extra money.”

The local lodge was chartered in 2009 and is open to any certified law enforcement officer in Whitfield and Murray counties. It has 14 members now, 13 from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and one from the State Probation Office.

“We’ve done some small events and some charity events,” Jeff Silvers said, “but we’ve never really had the media exposure that we need to let people understand what we are and what we’re doing.”

The mission of the FOP, he said, is two-fold — to help police officers and their families when there’s a need such as a serious injury or death or a house fire, for example, and to help the community when there’s a need.

“It’s just helping the community when we can as we can with what we can,” he said, “whether it be helping an elderly person paint their home or mow their yard or helping someone that’s kind of underprivileged or doesn’t have the ability to get a good Christmas for their kids. We’re just a community-oriented organization.”

Lodge leaders plan to meet in January with officials from Walker County to get their advice on how to make Cops and Kids even bigger in 2014.

If you’d like to find out how you can help next year, contact Tammy Silvers at tsilvers@whitfieldcountyga.com or Jeff Silvers at jsilvers@whitfieldcountyga.com.

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