The lawn and garden center at the Walmart on Possum Run Road was filled with kids and police officers Sunday morning, serving homemade cookies and juice and botted water.
Beginning at 9 a.m., all 135 kids who were invited were treated to new school clothes.
The families taking part in Cops N Kids are in the Richland County Children Service’s Kinship program, with many raised by their grandparents or relatives, said Mike Bammann, FOP Lodge 32 president and a retired Mansfield police officer.
Children were separated into three tiers — $100 for kids in preschool through fourth grade, $125 for kids in fifth through eighth grade and $150 for kids in ninth through 12th grade — and paired with one of the 50 to 60 volunteers, many lodge members or friends and family of members, representing law enforcement from across Richland County.
The organization is tax-exempt, so children were able to spend the full amount on the clothing they picked out. Bammann said with winter approaching, volunteers encouraged winter coats and boots.
Mansfield Police Explorers Aiden Bailey and Isaiah Morales assisted a family of four children from Ashland with their shopping. Grandmother Barbara Williamson said she really appreciated the help with their school clothes.
Retired police Assistant Chief Tobie Smith, who was participating in the event for her 25th year, was helping 12-year-old twin sisters Janniah and Debriah Reese pick out clothes.
The girls, who are being raised by their grandmother Dorothy Hawthorne and their father, were carefully selecting their clothes. Their two brothers were elsewhere in the store being helped by another member of the police force.
Debriah said their grandmother is always helping them and they appreciate it.
“And she loves us,” she said.
Officer Mark Boggs brought his daughter Ashlynne Wright to help him help the youngsters find their correct sizes.
Elsewhere, William Pappas, 12, was shopping with the help of retired police Capt. Marijan Grogoza, finding T-shirts and tennis shoes, boots and more.
William was pushing the cart and loving it.
Mansfield police Chief Keith Porch was shopping as was Sgt. Jon Ahles, Detective Dave Scheurer and his wife and Ginger Antrican of the Police Athletic League.
When everyone was done, families checked out at the cash registers in the lawn and garden center center.
Everyone of the volunteers with Cops N Kids was busy keeping track of purchases on a notepad and pushing carts with the youngsters and learning about their school year thus far.
Grogoza said she always likes coming to the event.
“The kids appreciate it and our union is so generous,” she said. “It’s a great program.”