PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–On Saturday, kids joined a cop and a biker to pick up toys and presents for this Holiday Season.
The children are part of the Big Brother Big Sister of North West Florida program.
All Thanks Panama City Beach Outreach partnered with local police agencies and Panama City Beach Harley Davidson to give bikers and cops a chance to take children around Walmart looking for items they want or need.
While the ‘Shop with a Cop’ event helps spread holiday cheer, organizers think there’s a long-term benefit.
“It’s a great impact,” said Lieutenant Billy Carstarphen with Panama City Police Department.” I believe that when they grow up, they’ll have a different view on life, and also they’ll appreciate trying to help others well.”
“It just shows the kids that, you know, you have people out there who care for kids who won’t have a Christmas or won’t have that much of a Christmas,” said Merle Clough and Lou Narie from PCB Harley Davidson.
Big Brother Big Sister program pairs youth with a mentor to help support and encourage them. Most youth involved with the program live in single-parent households, have incarcerated parents, or grew up below the poverty line.
Without this annual event, many participants may not have many presents under the tree.
“It is a positive interaction with law enforcement and the biker community,” said All Thanks Panama City Beach Out Reach President Chris Jennings.”Then being so close to Christmas, I know everybody’s having a tough time. There are a lot of costs that have gone up on everything. So it helps people out so that, you know, they may not have Christmas, maybe a little light this year, but hopefully, with something like this, we can use a little bit of that burden.”
This year, 65 kids aged 6- 17 got a chance to shop. Each child received $100 to spend, but their purchases were covered even if they went a little over budget.
Bikers and cops said most of the time; the kids aren’t buying presents for themselves but for loved ones.
“We saw one kid hide flowers for his mom, another girl buying stuff, not for her, but for her brother,” said Clough and Narie. “It just makes my heart feel good to be able to be a part of this, you know, just to give back to the community.”
Big Brother Big Sister of North West Florida currently has 20 kids waiting to get a mentor.
If you want more information on the Big Brother Big Sister program, click here.