Spearfish police officers and friends deliver a Christmas surprise to one lucky boy Thursday night. Pictured from left, Hunter Bradley; Jacob Westover; Dustin Ruvolo; Mark Weber; far right Christian Raby with the Pennington Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Pioneer photo by Dennis Knuckles
SPEARFISH — The twinkling lights of Christmas were joined by the flashing lights of the Spearfish Police Department Thursday as officers from multiple public safety departments joined forces to make one little boy’s holiday a whole lot brighter.
This was just one of 25 such deliveries to kids in grades K-12 selected to receive some extra holiday cheer from the “Badges with Kids” program coordinated by local law enforcement.
Spearfish Police Department school resource officers Candi Birk and Jason Gellett coordinated funding with the “Black Hills Badges for Hope” a non-profit group based in Rapid City, along with school counselors and staff to select 25 kids that were in need or deserving of some extra cheer this year. Once that list was determined, officers reached out to the families to see if they would like to have their child participate.
In the past, officers have gone on shopping trips with the kids, but this year plans had to be altered and instead the kids were asked to make a wish list. In addition to the Spearfish Police Department, officers and first responders from other agencies also volunteered to be paired with a child’s list, purchase the items they asked for, and then deliver them to the kids at their homes.
The other participating agencies included the Spearfish Fire Department, dispatchers, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, the U.S. Forrest Service, South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the Lawrence County Sherriff’s office.
Given such an open request you would expect many of the kids to ask for expensive or frivolous items, but that was not the case for most. They overwhelmingly asked for clothes and necessities.
“A lot of these kids used their list to get presents for their siblings,” said Gellett, noting that they had one child that wanted to buy cat food for their grandmother’s cat, because she could not afford it herself. “We really had to encourage the kids to think about themselves in this instance.”
Sergeant Mark Weber with the Spearfish Police Department said, “It’s been a tough year for everyone. This is about doing the right thing for our community. It’s about bringing joy and happiness. It feels really good when we can do some positive outreach and make one child’s Christmas brighter this year.”
Black Hills Badges for Hope provides outreach to kids year round, including providing shirts, shoes and equipment for kids wanting to play sports.
“They really do a good job helping out throughout the year,” Weber said.
The Christmas deliveries have taken place over the last month, and will wrap up this weekend.
If you would like to donate to their on-going projects, contact the Spearfish Police Department at (605) 642-1300.
According to their website, Black Hills Badges is a non-profit group designed to bring law enforcement and members of the community together by fostering connections through events, giving back to the community and scholarships. The primary mission of the group is to curb violence and improve the overall well-being of our community by fostering positive connections built on trust, integrity, and compassion between first responders and member of our community, particularly at-risk-youth.
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