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Killdeer students shop with cops to help struggling families

The Killdeer Safety Patrol and Dunn County Sheriff's Office teamed up to buy Christmas gifts for less fortunate children.

Richard Carney
Dunn County Sheriff's Cpl. Richard Carney helps Eli Hafner-Holden pick the perfect gift during AAA Killdeer Safety Patrol's shop with a cop event on Dec. 1.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Walmart's toy aisles were jam packed with children, deputies and the spirit of Christmas Thursday afternoon as the AAA Killdeer Safety Patrol participated in their annual Shop with a Cop program. Toys purchased for the program will be donated to Dunn County children in need.

About 20 third grade Killdeer Public School students picked out gifts for 40 kids from their area with guidance from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department. Vicki Carney is a Killdeer Safety Patrol Advisor and special education teacher. She said the kids worked hard raising money by selling 'patrol mix' earlier this year to fund the project.

“They're taking the money they raised and then they're buying other, less fortunate kids gifts,” Carney said. “I think that's so awesome.”

She leaned on her fellow teachers to help find children who could use some extra Christmas presents this year. The program ensures anonymity, she added, explaining that shoppers only knew the age and genders of the kids they were shopping for.

“So I have a list of the kids we're going to buy for and then I also have another list from preschoolers and kids in the Killdeer community I know that would benefit from getting some Christmas presents and Christmas cheer,” Carney said. “I have no idea of who the student is, what they like … so it's between the deputies that are shopping with the kids and the kids. They've got to figure that out between the two of them what they think a child like that would like. Of course I'm going to buy a bunch of extra little things to put with the gift, so when we wrap them and stuff they'll be special, you know.”

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Shop with a cop
Killdeer Third Grade Students Emery Hanson, Shakohi Spotted Bear and Autumn Sanchez shop for gifts with Dunn County Chief Deputy Harold Dentinger in Dickinson Dec. 1.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

The safety patrollers were all smiles as they bounced around the toy section, hunting for the perfect gifts. Some will be quietly tucked into children’s backpacks while they’re at school, and others hand-delivered by the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office. After shopping the kids were treated to food and games at Pizza Ranch.

“That does show them that hey if I do good things for other people that sometimes there's rewards being behind it, for it, so it's a good thing,” Dunn County Sheriff's Cpl. Richard Carney (Vicki's husband) said.

Richard, better known as 'Ricky Bobby' to the kids he works with, is also a safety patrol advisor.

“I try to instill leadership skills and teach them community involvement, how to help others,” he said. “That's the idea behind the program itself, too, is to teach these little kids from a young age, how to care for other people in their community that they live in, how to have empathy… so they have good values as they get older and are in junior high/high school. If the kids get too old, it can be really hard to mold them and mentor them. But if you can start with the kids at a young age, that helps a lot.”

The safety patrollers help in other ways, such as guiding kindergartners safely to their classrooms at a life stage when school is still very new and intimidating, Vicki said.

“They go out like at recess time and then make sure the kids are being safe on the playground,” she added. “They're like peer mentors.”

Richard said his wife goes the extra mile to help kids outside of the program as well.

“Vicki's always thinking of the kids at school for all these little odds and ends that not everybody thinks of,” he said. “She is quite the advocate for kids, and the parents too. She has a great relationship with most of the kids and their parents. A lot of the parents are really happy that she's there.”

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Vicki Carney pushes a cart overflowing with toys that the safety patrollers following a benevolent shopping spree with third grader safety patrollers.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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