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Havre police help spread Christmas cheer


December 26, 2017

Havre Daily News/Paul Dragu

Jay, 8, second from left, gets help from Havre Police Officer Joshua Holt and his wife, Jenna, wrapping gifts Jay purchased Saturday during Shop with a Cop in Havre.

Havre police officers, many backed by their families, took 13 lucky kids Christmas shopping Saturday.

The third annual Shop with a Cop program, where kids in need are paired with officers who take them holiday gift shopping, started about 9 a.m., with kids and officers rendezvousing at City Hall before commencing an activity-packed day.

The kids were chosen by teachers at Highland Park Early Primary School, Sunnyside Intermediate School and Lincoln-McKinley Primary School.

First up was breakfast at McDonald's, then on to shopping at Walmart before having lunch at Pizza Hut. Just a few minutes before 1 p.m., the party barged through the entrance of the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line with hundreds of dollars in gifts.

This was the first year the gift wrapping was done at the Boys & Girls Club. Club Director Tim Brurud, who, together with help from his family, put on Christmas music in the background and set out the tables before the wrapping party began, said the decision was easy. When someone with the program asked if the gift wrapping could be done at the Boys & Girls Club, he didn't have to think about it long.

"Since we are all about the kids and the community, we are glad to open the doors," Brurud, swamped in wrapping paper, said.

Assistant Police Chief Jason Barkus and his wife, Tamara Barkus, were helping 5-year-old Elizabeth wrap her gifts.

"We needed the room," Jason Barkus said of the elbow room the Boys & Girls Club offered.

Elizabeth was all smiles and she said she was especially excited about a pair of pajamas that were being folded and wrapped at the time.

"I got presents for my family and myself," she said. "It's going to be goody goody."

The Barkuses' daughters, Alex and McKenna, also came along to help and be part of the program.

Officer Josh Holt, who is also the Havre Public Schools resource officer, enlisted his family as well. Holt, his wife Jenna Holt, and their children, 6-year-old Alix and 3-year-old Ethan, took 8-year-old Jay shopping. Jay got a skateboard and a sled, among a few other items.

Havre Daily News/Paul Dragu

Havre law enforcement officers and their family and friends help children Saturday in Boys & GIrls Club of the HI-Line wrap gifts they bought in Shop with a Cop.

Shop with a Cop was a good way for their kids to learn about giving and buying gifts for others, Jenna Holt said. She said she saw some of the same selflessness in some of the kids in the program.

"It's been fantastic," Jenna Holt said.

One of the main goals of Shop with a Cop is to find kids whose families are going through a rough time financially, or have had some form of negative contact with police, and introduce them to police officers who care.

"The trauma of seeing a family member arrested can cause many young kids to have some very negative feelings towards police, as they rarely hear the whole story, objectively, from those involved. Focusing on children who have lost parents or experienced a family trauma, it aims to plant a seed of hope back into the hearts of those who have been recently devastated," a statement from Havre Protective Police Association said.


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