Blue Christmas A Joy For Local Children

Oneida, TN (2009-12-30) Without the intervention of caring individuals and organizations, many local children would have had a blue Christmas.  For a group of about 70 youngsters from Scott County, blue was the new green this holiday season.

On December 22, 2009, more than 70 underserved children from the community had the rare opportunity to go shopping for Christmas, spending time with members of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Big South Fork Lodge #86; along with other emergency services workers.

The sixth annual “Shop With A Cop”, the largest community involvement activity of the local FOP Lodge, was another resounding success, providing Christmas gifts for approximately 75 kids.  Unlike many other organized gift distribution efforts, children selected to participate in the program are given a budget, then allowed to shop for the item(s) they want.  Not only do they get the things they want, participants also get to spend time with local members of law enforcement.

This year, all local agencies were represented at the event, including officers from the Oneida Police Department, Winfield Police Department, Scott County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  Scott County Sheriff Anthony Lay, Oneida Police Chief Mike Cross, Winfield Police Chief Steve Trammell and Trooper Mark Chitwood of the Tennessee Highway Patrol participated.  Oneida Fire Chief Mike Stringer and several members of the Oneida Fire Department also joined.

The money spent on the children, approximately $5,200, was collected throughout the year by the local FOP lodge, which held several events including a fundraising roadblock and a barbecue dinner. Plateau Electric Cooperative’s “Operation Pocket Change” and the event host, the Oneida Wal-Mart SuperCenter, were the largest contributors to the program.

“Without the support of the community, we couldn’t buy gift for these kids,” FOP President Creston Burton, an Oneida Police officer, said. While the direct benefit of the program is gifts for underserved children, the positive impression and bond of trust created between the youngsters and the law enforcement community is invaluable. “It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Burton added.