GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – More than two dozen children from Gulfport and Pass Christian’s Boys & Girls Clubs had the chance to go out and buy their Christmas presents.
Alongside them were officers from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office helping them to get what they wanted without going overboard.
“We got a whole bunch of police officers, and they’re just helping them to keep being accountable and not spend $300,” said Lt. Robert Lincoln. “Because kids don’t understand how much that $100 is and when it comes to real-life purchases.”
Lincoln said a program like this serves as a constant reminder of what it means to be a community.
“Man, I’m ringing a bell today. This is the Christmas spirit that you can’t buy,” he said. “This is a chance for us to reach out to these kids and really speak into their lives, and it’s fantastic. You don’t get an opportunity like that every day.”
That’s something that club services director Wayne Buchanan said is needed to help re-establish the purpose of the Boys & Girls Club: investing in the youth.
“It is through partnerships with Academy Sports here and also with the sheriff’s department that provides that opportunity for the community, to give back to the Boys & Girls Blub and to the youth that we serve in the Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Wayne Buchanan .
It’s an opportunity that helps to invest in the youth as well as bridge a gap between two communities.
“A lot of these kids are nervous about police officers and men in uniform, and this is one of the best ways where we can bridge that gap and let them meet the person behind the badge instead of the uniform,” Lincoln said.. And I think that’s the biggest thing for us is to make sure these kids know we are here for them and that we’re real people and not the boogeyman they see on television.”
Club personnel said they are appreciative of the officers and are looking forward to keeping this a Christmas tradition.
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