The stories are enough to warm and break your heart at the same time.
For the fourth year in a row now, Prairie Village police officers and a number of local businesses have helped make the holidays a little happier for a group of northeast Johnson County kids and their families.
With donations from the Prairie Village Municipal Foundation and the Mission Target, which provides a $20 giftcard for each child, the Prairie Village “Shop with a Cop” program this year helped provide $170 each for 10 area kids to go Christmas shopping Thursday. The kids generally select a few presents for themselves, said Capt. Wes Lovett, but they seem to spend more of their energy on selecting gifts for their families.
“There’s the kids who come in here and buy everything in five minutes because they’re so excited to buy things they never get to,” Lovett said. “And then you see the kids who come in here and take an hour because they’ve never had this much money to try to figure out what they want to buy.”
Last year, one child got to the checkout aisle and the officers realized all the gifts in the cart were for family members. This year, one child made a beeline to the appliances aisle, excited to get a new coffee pot for mom.
At one point on Thursday Chief Wes Jordan came around a corner and found Sgt. James Carney with an odd expression on his face as the young girl he was assisting examined toys.
“He pointed to a stuffed animal in the shopping cart and said, ‘She is putting that one on the shelf for her baby sister,’” Jordan said. “Which did not make sense initially, but he continued after a pause to say it is for her little sister that passed away… Sure makes my problems I dealt with today seem a little less difficult.”
After the shopping trip to Target, the officers and kids returned to the station where they had ice cream provided by Mely’s Yogurt and Ice Cream and pizza from Minsky’s. A number of other area business provided gifts for the kids as well, including Bank of Prairie Village, which gave each child a crisp $10 bill, and STANDEES, which gives them a discounted movie ticket.
The DARE officer working in Prairie Village schools helps the department identify families that could benefit from the assistance.