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Police help keep kids warm

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For some local kids in need, Christmas comes early.

Next week, Yellow Springs police officers will take a group of local youth to the Mall at Fairfield Commons to buy them coats, hats, gloves and shoes. For more than 20 years, the police coat fund has kept local youth in need warm during winter months, but community donations are lagging behind this year. About $5,000 is needed each year to clothe the 15 to 20 children that the program serves.

Once led by former Chief John Grote, incoming Chief Tony Pettiford now takes over the annual tradition. Officer Naomi Penrod, who has participated for the past five years, said she is thrilled to be part of such a worthwhile program.

“It’s amazing,” Penrod said this week. “You talk about some lifelong memories and fulfillment. For the kids, it’s like Christmas. Unfortunately, for some, that’s all they get for Christmas.”

Financial donations can be made at the Yellow Springs police station on the first floor of the John Bryan Community Center. Checks should be made out to the “Yellow Springs Police Coat Fund.” Donations will still be accepted after next week and used throughout the year to purchase school supplies, clothes or other needs for local children. Right now there is $4,638 in the fund.

Each year Yellow Springs Schools forwards names of needy children from kindergarten to sixth grade, many of whom don’t own coats or proper winter attire. Police make sure that those youth are not also being served by the annual Share the Joy Christmas tree at the Yellow Springs Public Library. Then one November day they load the children in a school bus, take them out to lunch and a department store and let them pick out winter gear, including a coat, a hat, a pair of gloves and a pair of winter shoes.

“It’s their own and it’s what they like,” Penrod said of the kids picking out their own attire. “They’re so proud because everyone gets their own bag of stuff.”

Penrod added that the children are always appreciative and have a great day connecting with local police officers. And this year is extra special, since it will be their first chance to meet Pettiford, who will spend his second day as police chief taking children to buy coats. That relationship is important, according to Village Manager Laura Curliss.

“I think it’s good whenever you have an opportunity for the youth, and adults, to get to know the police on a human level,” Curliss said.


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