12/20/06 — Officers take children shopping for holidays

View Archive

Officers take children shopping for holidays

By Lee Williams
Published in News on December 20, 2006 1:45 PM

Carol Brock climbed out of bed at the crack of dawn Saturday.

Her reddened eyes told her 5 a.m. was a little too early to wake up on a weekend, but this day was not about her. It was about making the Christmas holiday special for local boys and girls.

"I can't stand the thought of a child getting up on Christmas and not having anything," Ms. Brock said. "I'd rather make sacrifices to help others. That's what Christmas is about."

Ms. Brock, her husband, Dennis, and son, Alan, were among dozens of law enforcement officers, motorcycle riders and their families who participated in Shop with an Officer at Wal-Mart.

The Wayne County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 62 sponsored the program. The Harley Owners Group, however, is the single largest contributor to the event, which has been held for 13 years.

"We started out with two, but now we sponsor at least 10 kids, and we have been for at least six years," said Dennis Brock secretary of H.O.G. "The reason we do this is because everybody deserves a good Christmas. If we can help needy kids have a good Christmas, it blesses all of us."

The event fosters good relations with motorcyclists and law enforcement. Many local law enforcement officers are members of H.O.G.

Wal-Mart also supports the Shop with an Officer program, store manager Pete Flanigan said.

"We're glad to be a part of it," Flanigan said. "We try to help them any way we can. We try to give them discounts, and we opened up a couple of checkouts just for them, so they wouldn't have to wait."

Goldsboro police Officer Jeff Clifford, secretary of F.O.P Lodge No. 62, said he enjoyed funding the program. The lodge serves Wayne, Lenoir, Greene and Wilson counties.

"We're spending $100 on each child," Clifford said. "All this is possible through the donations that come in to the Wayne County F.O.P. All donations sent to the Wayne County F.O.P. stays in the community."

Clifford said the program's goal this year was to help 54 needy children. About 42 or 43 participated, officials said.

"These are children who would not have received Christmas had it not been for the Shop with an Officer program," Clifford said.

Wayne County F.O.P. President Ken Edwards said the organization compiles a list of children through member referrals and school social workers. He said Kim Brogden has been very instrumental in this process.

Ms. Brogden, who is a school social worker for Fremont Elementary School in Fremont and Charles B. Aycock High School in Pikeville, admits it's not easy selecting children because she has to ensure the need is truly there.

"We ask a little information about what the needs are so that we can prioritize because we can't help everyone," Ms. Brogden said. "I make sure they aren't getting help from the Empty Stocking Fund or the Salvation Army, so we can make sure everybody gets help."

But the smiles she receives from the children who come through the program makes the effort well worth it.

"I love it," she said. "It doesn't feel like Christmas if we haven't done this."

As she spoke, Keyashia Downey, 9, her sister, Aryana Horne, 8, and aunt, Brenda Jones, of Fremont, wheeled a cart full of goodies out of the store. Volunteer Laura Carcirieri, the wife of Goldsboro police Officer Pat Carcirieri, escorted them.

Aryana said she loved shopping with an officer.

"It was good," Aryana beamed. "I got toys, clothes, shoes and Popstar."

Keyashia, a basketball player, got a new basketball, so she can work on her already stellar moves.

"What about your Brats dolls," her aunt nudged.

"Oh, and, I got a Brats doll," she giggled.

Greene County Sheriff's Department Maj. Doug Stocks, an F.O.P. member, his wife, Janet, and son, Todd Shirley, participated.

Ms. Stocks has her own children, but she can't help taking on the role of mom to some who come through the program. When the children run in and head for the toy aisle, Ms. Stocks steers them in a different direction -- at first anyway.

"A hundred dollars is a lot, but it can go fast," she said. "I go to the clothes first. I ask them if there's anything that they need because a lot of kids don't have a winter coat or good shoes."

About $40 is spent on clothes and $60 is spent on toys, she said.