LIMA — The Lima Police Department kept a holiday tradition going despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today is the FOP Charities Board traditional Cops and Kids, however this year it’s Cops and Kids COVID-style,” said Amanda Leugers, a school resource officer from the Lima Police Department. “Since we can’t go shopping at Meijers, we had our officers and dispatchers go ahead and shop for all our students and wrap them and today we’re delivering them to all of their houses.”
It was an event that almost didn’t happen because of the pandemic.
“When we first started this year, we weren’t sure, between our talks with the health department and our sponsors, if we were going to be able to do it all. So the fact that we’re still able to serve 34 children this year is absolutely wonderful,” Leugers said.
The two biggest sponsors this year were Meijer and the Mike Garlock Memorial Foundation.
Just after noon Saturday, a caravan of emergency services vehicles left the Central Fire Station in Lima and made its way to the students’ homes, led of course by Santa and Mrs. Claus on a Lima Fire Department truck.
“You know as hard as this year’s been and we can bring some joy to some children I find it fantastic. And then when I thought about having Santa and Mrs. Claus getting out of a (police) cruiser, I thought the optics were bad. So a fire truck seems to be a better, more fitting, sleigh for the Kringles,” said Andy Heffner, Lima Fire Chief.
One of the stops was at the home of Kalia Jones, who has five children.
The effort to help her family is much appreciated.
“I think it’s going to make (Christmas) really good. It’s amazing,” Jones said.
Community-oriented policing sergeant Aaron Rode was glad to see everything come together.
“This is absolutely tremendous,” Rode said. “This is an event that we do every year, obviously. COVID and the pandemic has curbed our tactics a little bit, but we’ve adapted. We’ve overcome, and we put together what we believe is a great event.”
The effort in Lima wasn’t the only one going on in Allen County.
“We’re doing the city schools, so we have 14 bikes in our truck and the county has the rest of the bikes and then a lot of the small departments also delivered on their own. So Bluffton is delivering theirs, Spencerville is delivering theirs and Johnny Appleseed (park rangers) are delivering to the Catholic schools for us,” Leugers said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.