Anyzia Hamlet, 5, had a big grin on her face as she opened her arms to receive a box with a brand new doll in it.
Seated in a shopping cart full of new clothing for her, the toy was the last item on the child's wish list. The list was be filled thanks to the Fraternal Order of Police's annual Kops-4-Kids program. Families are selected based on need and gifts and clothing are purchased for each child in the family.
Allen County Patrolman Steve Gladding helped fill Hamlet's list Wednesday afternoon at the Meijer Store on Lima Road. Gladding has been with the Allen County Sheriff's Department for 10 years. For all 10 of those years he has volunteered his time to help children and their families find just the right gifts through the program.
“I just enjoy helping the families,” Gladding, father of four, said.
This year the FOP will be helping a total of 115 kids, and an additional 11 families with 27 children this Christmas. In January they will help another 44 kids.
Vicki Stonebraker, a civilian associate with the FOP said they have a hard time choosing the families, there are so many people in need. But eventually they select those they feel have the most need for the program.
They have $20,000 for the program this year. Fort Wayne Police Sergeant Mitch McKinney, president of the local FOP, said donations have been down. They stopped using phone solicitations a year ago, which could be part of it, but it could just be the year.
Every time they shop at a Meijer store, the store donates $2,500 to the program. For the past two years they have used Meijer for the program.
Scott Hoffman, Meijer store manger, said it's great to see the true meaning of Christmas coming out through this program.