The scene at Southern Elementary was very Christmas morning-like.
Toys, children and parents gathered to enjoy gifts and food. But instead of Santa bringing the glad tidings, it was Officer Jason Christopher, the Community Relations officer from the Georgetown Police Department and the volunteers from the Citizens Police Academy(CPA) auxiliary. The auxiliary group organized the event and provided donations to the event.
The Bluegrass Cycling Club donated 21 new bikes, with Walmart donating another two new bikes. The Georgetown Kiwanis Club donated books for gift giving and blankets donated by Minova USA, a manufacturer of construction safety products in Georgetown. Also donating were Carl and Susan Tackett who donated warm hats of various colors and the Elkhorn and Southern Elementary family resource centers, providing the pizza party with Christmas cookies. Tori Headley, the Family Resource Coordinator for Southern Elementary estimated there were 200 families in attendance.
“We wanted to extend this event to Garth Elementary families this year to allow the outreach to help more families,” said Headley.
Southern Elementary Assistant Principal Greg Dyk said he was happy to see so many families enjoying the interaction with the police department.
“Anytime we can get the community involved with our school, it’s a good thing,” said Dyk.
Sonya Hertzog, whose children attend Southern Elementary, brought her family to help support the event.
“I think this is great, it gives the kids another chance to celebrate Christmas, plus my Dad is involved in the Citizens Police Academy,” said Hertzog.
Officer Christopher said he and the other police officers enjoy spending some quality time with the young students from both Southern Elementary and Garth Elementary.
“It’s great to make that connection, where a student recognizes me from another event and I even get a hug sometimes,” said Christopher.
Building relationships with students is one of his main goals for these events, he said.
“I want the kids to see me as a human being and so maybe they won’t be afraid to come and talk with me if they have an issue,” said Christopher.
For Southern Elementary student Tyliek Miller, the evening was a fun and different way for him to view the police officers.
“My uncle is in the army and I think police officers are the same,” Miller said. “They both fight for our country.”
Christopher had similar reflections from his youth.
“When I was a kid, my friends and I all wanted to be firemen or police officers so it’s great for me to be in this position now to help portray a positive image for the police force,” he said.