Annual “Shop With a Cop” Event, Dec. 10
By Pam Colbert
Indiana Live! Casino
With the economy still in recovery, some children won’t be having a very, merry Christmas this year. But Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #86, with the help of many contributors including Indiana Live! Casino, is working to put smiles on young faces with its Annual Shop With a Cop® Event.
Vicki Overley got Indiana Live! Casino involved as a sponsor about three years ago. Jim Mackie, Director of Customer and Business Development, attended the FOP Lodge’s most recent fundraising auction and found a way to give on behalf of the casino not once, but three times. After buying back items the casino had donated for the auction, he returned them so they could be auctioned a second time, he then dug into his pocket and donated another $500. At one point in the evening the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #86 had already raised more than $32,000 and donations were still coming in.
“This is a terrific program,” Mackie said. “Indiana Live! Casino is proud to join other businesses and individuals in helping fund the Shop With a Cop® Event. It really helps kids better understand the role of a law enforcement officer. Some of the kids have not had positive interaction with members of law enforcement. This one-on-one program helps change the kids’ perception of the role of the officers in their community.” said Mackie.
The Shop With a Cop representatives interview families to find children who are most in need. Vicki Overley has been with the program for about four years. “On the day of the shopping trip, each participating police officer is assigned a child or two and then they take them to a theater to watch a movie, they ride in the police car with the lights and sirens on and stop traffic and let the kids talk on the radio,” Overley said. At the store, they visit Santa, have lunch and shop. They’re also given a food basket for their family. This year’s event is scheduled for December 10, 2011.
Overley added, “We allow them $20 for a toy. The rest goes for clothes, hygiene items, shoes and coats.” Asked what stories have touched her the most, Overley remembered a young boy a couple of years ago, who in tears, asked to trade his $19.99 toy for a blanket. She asked him if he had a blanket and he said he wanted to buy a blanket for his mom, because he had a blanket, but his mom had to sleep under towels.
“The need is always great,” Overley said. “Every year, we have more and more people in need and now more than ever. Many people are just a paycheck away from needing a helping hand. On the day of the shopping event, we get requests from several agencies to help people that they can’t help. Last year, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #86 and 13 other police agencies collectively raised over $77,000 and helped 289 children.
To get involved with the Annual Shop With a Cop® Event, contact Vicki Overley at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #86 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-264-7982.