CRESTVIEW — At 9 a.m. Dec. 18, Community Services officers, patrol officers, Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni volunteers and Allen Turner Chevrolet employees descended on the Crestview Walmart where, armed with the lists, they dispersed into the toys and crafts departments where over the next two hours they filled more than 25 shopping carriages with goodies for the kids on each volunteer’s lists.
Through the Crestview Police Department’s Cops For Kids program, hundreds of local families have been helped over the program’s nearly two decades. Parents or legal guardians apply for assistance through the Community Services Division program, provide wish lists and describe their children’s interests.
Community Services officers marshaled the carts as the volunteers grabbed another list, noted its contents and headed back into the aisles. Periodically volunteers offered each other advice when someone was stumped for gift ideas.
Helpful Walmart staff were on hand to direct the shoppers and offer advice.
"What can I get a 7-year-old boy who likes bugs?" Officer Justin Wallen said as he wandered the aisles. Later he and Officer Gabe Dunlap provided each other support as they faced a plethora of options for Lego building block sets.
"Should I go with Harry Potter or Jurassic World?" Officer Dunlap mused.
In all, more than 55 families — close to 200 kids — were assured a great Christmas morning by more than 12 volunteers.
"It’s the most we’ve ever had," Community Services Officer Wanda Hulion said happily as she accepted another stuffed lawn-and-leaf bag and sent the volunteer back into the toy section with another list.