On Thursday morning, a plethora of vehicles from various local law enforcement agencies including the Durant Police Department, Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Choctaw Tribal, were lined up in front of Durant Walmart.
The officers were not there to make an arrest or stop troublemakers; they were there to help local families in need shop for Christmas gifts through the annual Shop with a Cop event.
The event, sponsored by Durant Fraternal Order of Police, Durant Police Reserves, Walmart, Shamrock Bank and Indian Nation Wholesale, has been going on for three years and Reserve Captain John Wyatt said the program has grown every year.
Over 110 recipients shopped with officers and volunteers this year. Wyatt said, “It’s just a wonderful program.”
Walmart was packed as parents and children, along with cops and volunteers, perused aisles and filled shopping carts with toys and other items.
Jennifer Lewis was shopping with her son, Marcal Lewis. “He’s getting his wish list,” she said.
Marcal picked out some super hero toys and told Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain Jeff Sewell, “I like heroes!”
Wyatt said the event was about to provide gifts for over 80 children, including kids from the Durant Youth Shelter. “Some of the officer’s families are taking kids (from the shelter) home for Christmas,” he said. The Christmas spirit was alive and well as every child’s face glowed with excitement. The looks on their faces were priceless as they selected items such as Barbies, trucks and paint ball guns to take home and put under their Christmas trees.
Some parents appeared flustered as their children ran up and down the aisles picking out toys, but they all said they appreciated what the local officers were doing for them and their family.
Wyatt said the officers and sponsors raised and donated over $9,000 to the event this year. “Not only does Walmart give us money,” he said. “But they also gave us a discount and provided all the wrapping paper.”
He added that many officers put some of their own money into the event. “This is something the law enforcement community is really trying to come together on. It’s a big thing for us - they all work together to raise funds,” he explained. “Next year, we hope more and more law enforcement will become involved and make it a community wide event.”
After the families were done shopping, they walked to the back of the store where volunteers from RSVP, Walmart employees and various other volunteers were eagerly waiting to wrap the presents. The rooms were full of commotion as wrapping paper, ribbons and tape covered up toys, bikes and other items.
Families left Walmart with wrapped presents to place under their Christmas trees. The annual Shop with a Cop event demonstrated how invested local officers are in the community.