Annual event fosters good attitudes toward police officers

Event brings police and foster children together

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A tradition in Paragould is about far more than buying toys.

One hundred dollars can buy several things, including ten months of Netflix, two or three tanks of gas, and maybe even a change in perspective.

“It’s really special to watch them shop together because you can almost see an instant bond created,” President of Pay It Forward Paragould, Dustin Rumsey, said.

He’s talking about a bond between police officers and foster children.

“Unfortunately, sometimes they have the job of taking them from their home,” Rumsey said. “So what we want to do is kind of build a bond with that relationship, so they have a good attitude about police officers.”

And what better way than to take the kids shopping.

Pay It Forward Paragould gave each kid a $100 gift card to Walmart.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services picked 50 foster children this year to participate.

“Our names get matched up with a child,” Patrolman James Cooper said.

"And then we'll take them to go shop."

It’s Paragould’s fifth annual event, but for Cooper, it’s his first.

“I’m pretty fired up about it,” Cooper said.

And it was made even more special when he saw some familiar faces.

“I’m also a school resource officer,” Cooper said. “And I’ve seen a couple of my kids here.”

Each year brings new officers and more kids in need, but it always ends the same way.

“A whole lot of hugs and a whole lot of opening toys of course,” Rumsey said. “Afterwards, you can kind of see the officers get emotional.”

Several individuals and businesses donate to Pay It Forward Paragould’s biggest project of the year, and Rumsey said he sees it continuing for years to come.

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