EAST LIVERPOOL - For most children, Christmas morning means waking up while it's still dark, excitedly stepping into a wonderland of brightly decorated trees, colorfully wrapped gifts and a day filled with family, food and fellowship.
But, as in every community, there are in the city some children to whom Christmas is only a myth, something other families celebrate, a day like most others in their lives where gifts, fellowship and sometimes even food are rare.
It is to this group of children the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 29 again hopes to bring some Christmas cheer with the annual Cops and Kids campaign.
In its 13th year, the program formerly known as Shop with a Cop depends solely on the generosity of the community to provide not only toys but warm coats, boots and gloves to children for whom Christmas is not always merry.
Chief John Lane is chairing the campaign for his third year and said donations have been coming in slower than usual, perhaps because of the poor economy.
But, according to Lane, he is hopeful people will come through again this year as they have always done to help the kids.
He said one resident never fails to donate $5 each year, "all she can afford," while a family from outside the area consistently donates $300, and both donations are always appreciated.
"It all adds up," Lane said, saying 62 children were given a happy holiday last year, with $12,915 spent during a shopping trip with police officers, who were assisted by their wives and other family members in helping the kids choose their treasures.
"We average about 60 kids a year," Lane said.
The children chosen to participate are recommended by their respective schools, with Lane noting, "The teachers see them every day; they know what they need."
And, while family financial situations are generally the basis for participants, Lane said that is not always the case. Sometimes, a child is chosen due to another situation in the home, such as the loss of a parent, where the child "just needs his day brightened."
Letters have gone out to local businesses and some former donors, soliciting donations, and Lane said any amount is appreciated.
The children will be taken shopping on Dec. 15 this year, so donations can be made any time before then.
They can be dropped off at the police station in the basement of City Hall or checks r money orders can be sent to F.O.P. #29, Cops and Kids Program, P.O. Box 233, East Liverpool, Ohio, 43920.