Columbus Police officers transformed into Santa’s elves over the weekend to help bring some holiday cheer to more than 20 area kids and their families.
The Columbus Police Department on Sunday held its annual “Santa Cop” extravaganza, welcoming 24 local kids and families to its downtown headquarters for pizza and other treats; holiday activities; and, of course, presents and visits with Santa Claus.
“It’s a great way for us to give back to the community,” CPD Investigator Troy Urkoski said. “And we’re fortunate, because the Columbus Police Department has a lot of community support.”
The 24 kids came from eight local families who were nominated by residents. CPD accepts nominations and then reaches out to the adults of families to confirm if they would like their children to participate.
“We try to find families and kids that could use a little extra cheer during the holiday season,” Urkoski said. “And then we do our best to fill needs for them, such as clothing, shoes and socks, and mix in things they want, like toys. We can’t get them everything, but we do try our best.”
That’s possible thanks to the generosity from the community. CPD fundraises throughout the year and once again in 2023 received donations from many local individuals and businesses that helped cover the cost of pizza and presents, among other things.
As for the shopping and wrapping, the CPD "elves" took care of it all. Urkoski said he and many others from CPD went out as a group on their own time a few weekends ago to shop for all of the kids. Officers then also donated their time to wrap everything.
“All officers participate in this. It’s volunteer time,” he affirmed. “But it’s a good feeling, especially when you see the smiles on all of the kids’ faces.”
Kids and officers enjoyed some holiday-themed activities and pizza together before Santa handed out goodies. Attendees also got to visit with Eden Comfort Dog, “the Official LCC K-9 Comfort Dog of Peace Lutheran Church.”
Besides providing children and families some holiday cheer, the event is also a great way for officers to connect with young people on a more personal level.
“It helps us build good relationships with these kids,” Urkoski said. “We want them to know they can trust to us and come to us when they need help.”
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