Far too often, police say, their first interaction with local children comes during a time of crisis.
And far too few are the times officers help local children pick out a new pair of slippers for grandpa or a new toy for the family’s new baby.
That’s why so many Naperville police officers look forward to the holiday season.
The Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #42 Friday sponsored its fourth annual “Shop with a Cop” program for nine local children at Target on the city’s west side.
The union works with the city’s youth social services unit throughout the year to select the disadvantaged children to participate in the $150 shopping spree with a police officer.
Some children live in homes where police have been called to, while others have been selected based on their family’s participation in the city’s social services programs.
Detective Mike Caruso, shopping with 10-year-old Davion Perez, said he has participated the last three years to see the joy the children get from shopping.
“Sometimes it can be challenging to keep the kids focused on the sharing and giving aspect,” Caruso said. “But when they do, they have a great feeling of accomplishment when they pick out something nice for a loved one.”
Davion’s mom is sure to like the special gift he picked out for her, and his brothers and sisters are sure to enjoy the toys he picked out for them.
EIght-year-old Marilyn Siwek also plans to surprise her family with some nice gifts on Christmas morning.
She went a little over her $150 allowance but spent it entirely on gifts for her three sisters, brother and parents.
Marilyn’s mother, Gia Siwek, said the family was put in touch with the shopping program after they received assistance from Naperville CARES earlier in the year.
“I’m so thankful Marilyn gets the opportunity to help us all. She’s a great big sister,” Gia Siwek said, holding back tears, “I just want them to all have what they need, so I’m very thankful.”
All told, the union spent about $1,600 to brighten Christmas for the nine families.
The union raises the money through fundraisers held throughout the year.
“Obviously everyone went a little over their limit,” said Union President Vince Clark, who organized the event. “But it’s all in the name of making someone’s holidays a little brighter so I think we can swing it.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.