Dunston Elementary School second-grader Richard Elliott was making his way toward the toy section in Walmart with two North Charleston police officers when he stopped, picked up a sleeping bag and dropped it in a shopping basket.
“Who is that for?” asked one of the officers, Sgt. Anthony Daniele.
“It’s for my little brother,” Richard responded.
The youngster was one of 21 children selected by the department’s school resource officers and school counselors to be a part of the first-ever “Kids and Cops” program, which included $150 gift certificates for the children to buy anything they wanted at Walmart.
On Saturday morning, officers paired up with children, talked to them about their wish lists, then drove the kids to the Centre Pointe Walmart for the shopping spree. So many officers wanted to be part of it that the department had 10 more officers than kids.
Richard made sure everyone in his family got something, though it required help from Daniele and Private First Class Jose Torres to thin some of the items out.
“I’ve worked at the North Charleston Police Department for 12 years,” Daniele said, “and this was the most fulfilling experience I’ve had.”
The idea for Kids and Cops grew out of a conversation between officers Clinton Ivey and Chris Tallbot in August. They were talking about how they were going to have to start saving money to buy gifts for Christmas, and they realized, having worked in North Charleston’s schools and neighborhoods, how many children would receive little to nothing for Christmas.
“We began to brainstorm and try to think of any way that we could help as many kids as we could to have a great Christmas,” said Ivey.
The original goal of getting five children gift cards to Walmart grew to 21, thanks to the support of North Charleston area businesses, and more.
After the children enjoyed breakfast compliments of Chick-fil-A, Ivey presented two, 32-inch flat-screen TVs to My Sisters House and one 51-inch flat screen to Carolina Youth Development Center, agencies that help children in need.
Even after the shopping trip, the fun wasn’t over. The day ended with the children and officers enjoying lunch at Hello Deli.
“We’re hoping this is the first of many Kids and Cops events to come,” said Ivey.
North Charleston Police officer Chris Tallbot helped come up with the idea for Kids and Cops.×
Lambs Elementary student Shawn Hooey explains a video game to North Charleston Police Detective Anthony DiPaolo during the first-ever Kids and Cops shopping trip at Walmart on Saturday. David Quick/postandcourier.com×
Dunston Elementary second-grader Richard Elliott chats with North Charleston Police Sgt Anthony Daniele at North Charleston City Hall shortly before going to Walmart for the first-ever Kids and Cops shopping spree. David Quick/postandcourier.com×
Patrolman Clinton Ivey was one of two officers who came up with the Kids and Cops program in late last summer.×