GALION — Christmas will be a little brighter for eight Galion City Schools students and their families thanks to the generosity of local police officers.
The Fraternal Order of Police Galion Lodge 71 once again sponsored the annual Shop with a Cop campaign to benefit area school children. The kids and cops enjoyed an evening of shopping together on Thursday, Dec. 17 at Walmart in Bucyrus.
“We like to give back to our community,” said School Resource Officer Ralph Burwell of the Galion Police Department. “In this day and age when you nothing but bad business on the news about cops, we want people to know that there are a lot of good cops out here, and we’ve got a lot of them with Galion PD.”
Burwell, who’s been involved with the program for four years, said the FOP works with the Galion City School District to compile a list of children each year and then they set a date to take the children shopping. He and former officer Steve Knapp started the program in Galion.
“This year we brought in eight students,” Burwell said. “We typically only have six kids and we usually do a toy drive, but with the (coronavirus pandemic) we changed that up and added two more students to our Shop with a Cop program, which is great. Each student gets $200 to shop with. So we had a total of $1,600 from the FOP to use to give back to our kids.”
The students picked out a wide range of items, both for family members and themselves. Gift choices included Nerf guns, a hoverboard, video games, a set of walkie talkies, and other items.
“It’s great to see the smiles on their faces,” said Burwell, who’s been with the Galion Police Department for nearly 14 years. “They’re having fun. You know, I’ve got four kids of my own and it’s fun for me as a dad and I know it’s fun for these other officers to take these kids shopping, just to see how they react and see who they’re shopping for. A lot of these kids are shopping for their family members and that shows they’ve got a good heart, they’re thinking about other people and their needs. ‘Tis the season to give.”
Burwell said the department hopes to expand the program in 2021 to serve more children in the Galion area.