Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 149 held its annual Christmas with a Cop at Meijer from about 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Pictured are members of the FOP, representatives of Meijer and the Grinch. Photo provided by Meijer.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 149 held its annual Christmas with a Cop at Meijer from about 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Pictured are members of the FOP, representatives of Meijer and the Grinch. Photo provided by Meijer.
Ryan Moore, Warsaw Police Department officer and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 149 president, has had people donate at the Christmas with a Cop program before, but Thursday night an anonymous man handed over $800.

The FOP was at Meijer in Warsaw from about 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday for Christmas with a Cop.

“We had a random donor that walked up and asked what we were doing. We told him and he handed us $800,” Moore said. “It was $800 cash, and then he walked away. I have no idea who he was. He didn’t want a tax-exempt, he just handed it to us and walked away.”

The man was at Meijer to pick his medicine up and the only money he kept in his wallet was the money he needed to pay for his medication.

Moore said the donation was great.

“This (Christmas with a Cop) is great. These kids get to see us in a different element than they normally do. They get to experience a time where we can bring a little excitement and joy to their lives, and be around a police officer and feel comfortable, be themselves and have fun,” Moore continued.

Alexis Ray, Meijer human resources representative, said, “Meijer has been in Warsaw since 2013, and I know they’ve been doing this for the past four or five years or so. We do it because we like giving back to the community. The FOP has been very generous with us and everything, like selecting our store. We feel very honored to have them all here and that they want to shop with us. We do it because it’s a tradition that has been going on and we want to keep that going. We love our community and we love giving back to them as much as we can. We were able to donate $2,000 to this event as well. We just like having them here and doing this all for the kids.”

The FOP has been doing Christmas with a Cop for at least 12 years, but probably much longer, Moore said.

“We are taking approximately 165 kids Christmas shopping. We are going to spend roughly $120 on each kid - we’re going to spend around $60 or so on toys and $60 on clothes. And then Elliott’s Heating & Cooling this year stepped up and gave us a big donation - a little over $7,000 - for Christmas to specifically buy winter coats for these kids,” he said.

Checkout lines 17 and 18 were specifically for Christmas with a Cop, with 18 being for all the kids’ winter coats, “so it’s completely separate from the $120,” Moore explained.

The kid participating in the program are from all over the county and the “most kids we’ve ever had,” he said.

Being able to provide 165 kids with a Christmas “is pretty awesome this year. I’m really excited,” Moore said. “We voted as an FOP to increase the amount that we spend. Normally, it’s $100, and this year we decided to increase it a little bit just because the prices of everything has gone up. So we decided we wanted to raise ours, too, and spend a little more. The community stepped up and donated a lot of money to us this year, and they’re trusting us with it so we’re like, ‘You know what? Let’s shop for a lot of kids.’”

The amount spent per kid was $100 for about the last 10 years, he said, but they decided to increase it to $120 this year.

The number of kids participating in the program is also based on the amount of money raised for Christmas with a Cop.

“We’ve always limited it because our funds have always been limited. Being a not-for-profit, whatever we bring in from the donations and the community is what we’re limited to spending. So, this year we got a lot of donations this year. People were very, very giving, and so we decided they trusted us with their money and we decided to take a lot of these kids shopping,” Moore said.

Normally, the kids are in grades kindergarten to sixth grade (about ages 5-12). This year, while the FOP is still primarily doing K-6, Moore said they had a few families reach out to them with some teenagers and they were in need.

“We didn’t turn them away. So we were like, ‘yeah, absolutely, we’ll take them shopping, we’ll get them some stuff, we’ll get them winter clothes, whatever they need,’” Moore said.

Applications for Christmas with a Cop are taken to the schools for the schools to fill out and let the FOP know which families could use some help with Christmas.

“The schools see them every day. They know the families that are in need and they fill them out. And then, some families that may get overlooked, they email us and tell us their circumstances and we invite them to come too,” Moore said.

Most of the officers volunteered their time Thursday and included representatives of Indiana State Police, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office and Warsaw, Winona Lake, Pierceton, Milford, South Whitley, North Webster, Claypool and Syracuse police departments.

“Every agency in this county is showing up,” Moore said.

Along with donations from organizations and businesses like Elliott’s, funds for Christmas with a Cop are raised through the FOP’s annual golf outing.

“People sponsored holes, they sponsor golf teams and they then golf in it. So that sponsorship, all that money, we put towards this, and then some other donors in the community come by,” Moore said.