Christmas with Police capped off with a big pizza party af the Fayette Chuck E. Cheese. Right, Santa Claus gets ready to deliver presents with the help of his Blue Elves. (Special Photos)

img_2930The holiday season isn’t easy for everyone, but the Fayetteville Police Department always does its part to make sure the light shines a little brighter.
For more than a decade, the department has been working to make Christmas brighter for some local families, first as Shop with a Cop, and now with Christmas with Police. Every year, with the help of a couple local organizations, the Fayetteville Police Department selects families to share the spirit with.
Each shift and department is assigned one child and tasked with getting them gifts on their wish list. Donations come from local organizations and citizens to help make it happen.
“We could not do this without the help of Fayetteville residents,” said Detective Scott Israel.
Gifts are purchased with those donations, but many officers spent out of their own pockets and shopped on their own time.
“These police officers went above and beyond,” said Israel. “They are so invested in our community and in our kids.”
The officers are then tasked with wrapping the presents themselves, and that might have been the toughest part of all.
“Some of these presents are wrapped very uniquely,” joked Israel. “We can put on handcuffs, but it’s not part of mandated training to wrap a Christmas present. I’m starting to wonder if we need to put that in our mandate.”
The children and their families are invited to the police department for a special party, including a visit from Santa Claus. Santa, with the help of his Blue Elves, met with each child and let them open one present apiece. The officers and children played games, including a marshmallow snowball fight.
“The officers had a blast. They really got into it,” beamed Israel.
From there, it was on to Chuck E. Cheese for a Christmas party blowout. Chuck E. Cheese donated a pizza party and $500 in game coins.
“The kids got to play and play and play to their hearts’ content.”
Aside from the generous donations of many residents, the program received crucial support from the Kiwanis club, VFW, American Legion, Wal Mart, Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, Partner’s Pizza, Kroger, Fayette Fun Bowl, Chuck E. Cheese, and Larry Ivey.
The event is always a great way to bring the community and the police closer together. They aren’t the only local department who has a similar program either.
“In this day, there’s a lot of negativity towards police officers. It’s good for the public to see that we are real people, and we have a job to do,” said Israel, who talked about what a thrill it is to see the children’s faces light up. “We actually get to see who we’re protecting too.”