Dells area children have a ‘Holiday with a Hero’
First responders from local agencies held their annual Kops for Kids “Holiday with a Hero” shopping event Dec. 15, continuing a tradition in the Wisconsin Dells area dating back to 1998.
Volunteers from the Lake Delton Police Department, the Wisconsin Dells Police Department, the Dells/Delton EMS, the Lake Delton Fire Department, the Kilbourn Fire Department, the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department, and the Baraboo Police Department met at Spring Hill School where they were paired with a child or two to take shopping at the Lake Delton Wal-Mart.
“The mission behind Kops for Kids is building and maintaining positive relationships with the community,” said Detective Lucas Killick of the Lake Delton Police Department, organizer of the event. “We want to make sure that they know that we are here for them.”
Fifty-seven kids from 35 families participated in the event, which saw the volunteers buy holiday presents for the children that the children picked out, with the funding provided through the Kops for Kids program. Each child received between $125 and $150 of presents.
“We start with getting basic necessities, with each (child) filling out a wish list with what they are asking for that includes their name, age, clothing size for pants and shirts, and their shoe size,” Killick said. “Then we get something special for them, and lots of kids will get something for their brother or sister.”
Children in the program are selected by need, with counselors at the local schools sending recommendations to event organizers. Killick and his volunteers then comb through the recommendations to select children to participate, a process he says finds “who truly needs help” during the holidays. Besides the presents from Wal-Mart, each family also receives an entire Christmas dinner donated by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Funding for the program is provided by donors, both private parties and businesses. As part of the program each child writes a thank you letter to donors.
“It’s thanks to them that we are able to buy these (children) presents,” Killick said.
Families and volunteers from the local agencies began the day with breakfast at Spring Hill School, where the children met the first responders they would be shopping with and discussed their needs and wants from the trip.
Following breakfast, the children loaded into school buses with their partners and drove to the Lake Delton Wal-Mart in a caravan with police, ambulance, and fire escorts. Once at Wal-Mart, children were first greeted by Santa before leading their partner first responder through the aisles picking out toys, clothing, books, and other gifts, followed by eating donuts, coloring, and playing games while waiting for other children to finish shopping.
After shopping, the children returned to the buses where they were again escorted by first responders back to Spring Hill School. After unloading, they wrapped their presents with assistance from their partner first responders and ate a pizza lunch donated by Moosejaw Pizza.
“It was lots of fun, and I got everything I wanted,” said Nick Meller, 12. “I want to especially thank the officers for helping with all the shopping.”
“I’m most excited about my toy unicorn,” said Annica Hoffa, 8. “I got everything I needed and then everything I wanted.”
The “Holiday with a Hero” shopping event is part of a series of ongoing Kops for Kids programs in the community. Other events provide winter clothing to children, offer a scholarship to a graduating high school senior for a public safety degree, and provide extra-curricular clothing for sports in the community.
“We start planning the next one almost as soon as this one is finished,” Killick said. “You truly fell like these events make a difference.”