Seligman Shop With a Cop spreads Christmas cheer
December 13, 2017
Seligman kids were filled the Christmas spirit after shopping with some of Barry County’s finest officers on Sunday afternoon, December 10. This year, the Seligman Police Department took 30 kids shopping for Christmas gifts their families would otherwise not be able to afford. The long-standing tradition is a way the police department has bridged the gap with the community and promoted positive police interaction with the city’s youngest residents.
Seligman Chief of Police Matt Phillips as well as the city’s officers Justin Fohn, Chris Hutson, and Cody Bennett; county officer Wesley Kissinger; and Roaring River Park Ranger Steve Jabben spent Sunday afternoon with Seligman kids at the Cassville Walmart, treating them to gifts. This year, each of the kids was allotted $250. The department also ensured they had a warm winter coat to take home.
This year, as an added bonus, officers volunteering their time also selected five kids at Walmart to surprise with a gift. Phillips said this was the first year they surprised kids unexpectedly. He said, “We randomly selected five kids at Walmart just while the officers were walking around. The five kids each got one big item, like a bike or a tablet.”
Shop with a Cop has become one of Seligman’s most beloved events. This year was the first year that Phillips was in charge of it after being promoted to police chief in June of this year. He said, “It was a great success. The kids loved it and so did the officers. Some of the officers were able to get pictures with Santa at Walmart with the kids as well.”
When asked why he thinks it’s so successful year in and year out, he said, “It really shows that the community is there to help each other. Walmart is always a really big donor in terms of the money each year. The families that we chose also benefit so much from it.”
Each year, the department takes applications from families wanting to participate in the program. Children are eligible if they live in Seligman or the immediate surrounding area and have not participated in the past two years of the program. Phillips said, “They fill out information on why they think the kids have been selected and as long as their child hasn’t been selected in the last two years, they’re included.”
Last year, they raised over $9,000 and took 32 kids shopping. Phillips was hoping to surpass that donation amount this year and did by over $1,000.
In total, area individuals and businesses sponsored Shop with a Cop accruing a total of $10,031. Before beginning on Sunday, they had raised $9,731. While the event was taking place, they received an additional $300 while at Walmart, putting them over the $10,000 mark.
Phillips said he was grateful for such positive response and support from the community. “I just really think it builds the relationships between cops and the younger generation of the community. They are raised in a world where they are sometimes told that officers are bad, especially if they have had a bad experience, like seeing a parent or relative arrested. This shows that we are there to help them.”
He added, “I don’t know who had more fun: the kids or the officers.”