DeKALB – Demetria Bailey of Sycamore said times have been hard leading up to the holidays this year.
Bailey, 36, said she lost her baby girl recently and that a lot of money went to cremating her. She said it was a blessing to be able to participate in the annual Cops & Kids shopping event for the first time on Dec. 12 with her two sons, Adrian Franco, 12, and Jayden Blumenberg, 6, also of Sycamore.
“It gives me the opportunity to give my kids the things they need or want,” Bailey said.
More than 20 kids from 11 families went shopping with $100 gift cards for holiday gifts with the help of 14 members of the Sycamore Police Department during the event hosted by the Sycamore Fraternal Order of Police at Target, 2555 Sycamore Road.
Adrian said he picked out several XBox accessories for himself while his brother Jayden got Fortnite merchandise during this year’s event. Despite there being a lot of gifts to choose from and it being slightly overwhelming, he said, he’s glad he was able to participate in the event.
“It means a lot to me, because I can’t really get this stuff at home,” Adrian said.
Officer Steve Elbrecht, who shopped with Adrian and Jayden, said this was the last holiday shopping event he was participating in before retirement. He said he was glad he was able to participate this year after not being able to for a few years.
Elbrecht said he loves to participate in these types of events during the holidays because it’s fun to see children shop for themselves and their families. He said this type of event is important to have in the community so that police have the opportunity to show these kids that cops are human, too.
“They get to see us in a different light,” Elbrecht said.
The event was funded by Sycamore FOP members, Target Corp. and donations from local businesses, including Accurate Towing and Fitworkz 24-Hour Gym, said Luke Kampmeier, a Sycamore police officer and the secretary for the Sycamore FOP.
Ryan Hooper, an FOP member and school resource officer at Sycamore High School, said he has participated in the event for the about five years it has been happening. He said kids usually only see police when something bad happens to them, and it’s great to help members of the community this way during this time of the year.
“It feels good to see the faces of the kids smile when they get to pick out presents for them and, often times, presents for family members that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” Hooper said.