NC LEOs treat at-risk children to Christmas shopping spree

Trooper Ned Moultrie said the event not only gives children Christmas gifts, it also helps build trust between the community and law enforcement


By Sharon Myers
The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C.

LEXINGTON, N.C. — Approximately 50 at-risk children in Davidson County were treated to a shopping spree on Sunday courtesy of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

The Highway Patrol celebrated 20 years of its annual Give a Kid a Christmas shopping trip at the Lexington Walmart. During the event, children 18 and younger were given a $250 spending limit to purchase anything, excluding firearms and other weapons, they wanted for Christmas.

Trooper Ned Moultrie said the program is meant to make sure that all children have some kind of gift during the holiday season.

“This program is for at-risk kids who are at a transition point in society,” Moultrie said. “It could be for any number of reasons such as poverty, abuse or neglect. … The whole point is to help our community. We want to make it as great a Christmas as possible for each child, because it is a big deal for kids to have something under the tree on Christmas morning.”

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol has sponsored at-risk children through the Davidson County Department of Social Services since December 1998.

Dale Moorefield, director of the Department of Social Services, said the Give a Kid a Christmas program fills a need in the county this time of year.

“This helps provide some needed love for these children who have been displaced or are having issues,” Moorefield said. “It helps folks who are caring for children they may not have expected to have in their care during the holidays. … It is a huge help for us because I’m not sure we could provide gifts for all the children without them. We really appreciate all that they do for the children of Davidson County.”

He said not only does this event give children gifts for Christmas, it also helps build trust between the community and law enforcement.

“This is a great opportunity for the children to walk with the officers and get to know them,” Moorefield said. “Sometimes, the only time these kids see law enforcement is during a domestic issue or traumatic events. This gives them an opportunity to see them has humans; it shows them the people outside of being law enforcement.”

Moultrie said he also feels it is a great opportunity for the children to understand that there are real people behind the badges.

“We have one trooper for each kid or their guardian,” Moultrie said. “During this time, not only are we helping them pick out presents, we are trying to build a relationship with them. … We want them to know that we are part of society as well. I may be in uniform and my job is to perform in a law enforcement capacity, but we are just as part of the community as the rest of the population.”

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol raises money for the program in several counties throughout the year from various fundraisers.

Moultrie said that throughout the year, many law enforcement officers have to deal with children during some of the most difficult times in their lives, so this program gives them a chance to do something fun with the kids and to give back.

“It is such a feel good story,” Moultrie said. “It is such a joy to get to go shopping with these kids and see their eyes light up when they realize they are getting something they never dreamed they could get. And it’s not always toys. Sometimes they want clothes or shoes or even food. Often they want to spend their money on others. That is why I look forward to it every year.”

©2017 The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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