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story.lead_photo.caption Graham Thomas/Siloam Sunday Siloam Springs Police officer Zachary Ware helps 10-year-old Aaron Engleman try on a hooded sweatshirt during the Cops and Kids event held Wednesday at Walmart Supercenter in Siloam Springs.

Zachary Ware couldn't think of a better way to open his shift Wednesday evening.

Ware, a rookie patrolman for the Siloam Springs Police Department, was participating in his first Cops and Kids event as a police officer.

But, as Ware admits, it wasn't his first time to be involved in the annual event held across the country each year at Christmas time.

When he was a kid growing up in Prairie Grove, Ware said he was once the recipient of the same event.

"It made an impact on me," said Ware, who joined the force as a patrolman in February after working several years in dispatch prior to that. "I thought it was really cool."

Ware remembers getting toys and fun things that Cops and Kids are probably most famous for. But he also remembers getting necessities such as jeans and a coat.

On Wednesday, Ware was on the other side of it, helping three children from a family pick out shoes, clothes and toys at Walmart Supercenter.

"For me it's always been about giving," Ware said. "That's what we do as police officers. It means more to me to give back to these kids than it ever did to receive."

In total, nine families, including 28 kids, were blessed by the 2017 Cops and Kids event, which is sponsored by the Siloam Springs Regional Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 68.

Officer DeAndra Strickland, who is president of the organization, said around $8,000 was raised for this year's event.

Each child at the Cops and Kids event was given a budget of $175 to work with -- $75 for necessities such as clothes and shoes, $75 for wants such as toys and games and $25 extra for a gift for a Secret Santa gift.

Kids drew names out of a Santa hat prior to the event and were able to shop for that person.

"They're getting to get things," Strickland said, "but they're also getting to give back at the same time."

After the shopping was completed at Walmart, the families gathered at the police department headquarters for food, exchanging Secret Santa gifts and meeting Santa Claus himself.

Families also were given hams and other holiday food items in addition, Strickland said.

"I'd like to add how much we appreciate the amazing, generous community we have that made the event possible," Strickland said. "The support of Chief (Jim) Wilmeth, the entire police department administration, and the city also contributes to the success of the event."

General News on 12/24/2017

Print Headline: Cops and Kids hits home

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