Cops bring Christmas cheer to children

Pictured, from left, front row, are Brayden Koch, Anthony Shelton, Audrey Pape and Logan Hood; back row: Waterloo Deputy Police Chief Jeff Prosise, Waterloo police officer Dane Luke, Waterloo police officer Eric Waszack, Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy Ed Ahne, Monroe County Sheriff’s Department deputy Kyle Krebel, Waterloo police officer Shawn Wiegand, Waterloo police officer Rob Fernandez, and Sheriff Neal Rohlfing. (Sean McGowan photo)

A group of local children received the best Christmas present imaginable when Monroe County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Valmeyer and Waterloo police officers took them shopping Saturday at the Waterloo Walmart.

“Southern Illinois Rack Attack contacted me for a fundraiser to get with families in need and for community relations. It’s always good when you can get some positive stories out to the media, especially with what’s been going on,” Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing said.

Steve Reichling of Southern Illinois Rack Attack said the organization coordinated a sporting clay shoot in the summer to raise money for the Monroe and Randolph county sheriff’s departments to do a “Cops and Kids at Christmas” program. 

In total, $4,000 was raised with each department receiving half.

“For years, we’ve done one of these events. We’ve just always done it,” Reichling said. “And in previous years, the money would go to (St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital). The reason we’re not with St. Jude’s this year is because there are two or three other organizations doing one for St. Jude’s. 

“So that’s why not. And we wanted to keep it more local and both sheriff’s departments said ‘Cops and Kids at Christmas, yeah that’s perfect.’”

Rohlfing said initiating the program is the perfect way to have local law enforcement positively interacting with children in the area. 

In total, 10 kids participated in this year’s program.

“A lot of officers use a scare tactic — if you don’t behave, you’ll go to jail,” he said. “But this way the kids can see that they can talk to us and approach us.”

After a period of hanging out with the cops and receiving stockings containing candy, fidget spinners, K-9 shirts, stickers and other items at the sheriff’s department, the kids hopped on a bus to Walmart. The bus was donated by a deputy’s uncle.

They returned with video games, CDs, clothing, bikes and other goodies. The parents of each child also received a $50 gift card to buy more gifts.

Rohlfing said he would like to continue the program. In order to do so, the sheriff’s department will be looking for donations from area businesses next year during the holidays. 

Call 939-8651 for more information.

“I think it went very well — the looks on the kids’ faces, they were ecstatic. Very happy,” Rohlfing said. “It was good for the police, especially when there are a lot of negative things about law enforcement in mainstream media. 

“It’s good for the community to see.”

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