A group of local pool sharks got together this weekend for a tournament and raised more than $700 for a local police department program that helps make sure kids have at least one present under the tree this year.
Slayton Thomas, organizer of the tournament, said he knows a child that was nominated for Shop with a Cop in the past and wanted to find a way to give back to officers who may spend money out of their own pocket when kids spend a little more than they should on the gifts.
"When I was there it was fun watching the kids with the officers, but one thing I noticed with the officers is that you really can't tell a kid no when they're running over what they're allowed and all of the officers front all of that money that they run over out of their pocket," he said. "I just kind of wanted to be able to give something to help the officers with anything they might be paying over."
Thomas has raised money and given back to the community in other ways in the past, including doing a Toys for Tots drive a couple of years ago. He would like to continue doing other fundraisers around the Christmas season to help people out in someway.
The group raised $760 on Saturday.
Lisa Cassarly, Thomas' girlfriend, said she loved that her son, Colten, was able to spend time with the police officers.
"It's just really heartwarming that there's people out there that are willing to do things like this, especially the officers," she said. "Times are tough, especially around the holidays. He (her son) enjoys it, and for him it was more about spending time with the policemen is what means the most to him."
Capt. Dave Wilkie, who helps put together Shop with the Cop, said it was "cool" for a group of community members to come together to donate to the cause. Wilkie said this year there will be
around 30 kids who have been nominated for Shop with a Cop, which is the most they've ever had.
"That will be well received," he said.
During last year's event, Wilkie said he knows it means a lot to the families involved who may be struggling to pay the bills much less think about buying their kids presents for Christmas.
"There's some of these families whose parents have been out of work for months," he said last December. "... This is a hard time for them because there's so many needs at this time of year: the high heat costs, the food costs. If your vehicle is going to break down it's going to be in the winter. Presents are unfortunately down at the bottom of the list of things that need to be purchased."