Western Edge law enforcement brings Christmas to children in need

Two boys from Dunn County pose with Dunn Co Deputy Jonathan Avalos, center, and two Dickinson Police officers after picking out their toys.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — Approximately two dozen members of various law enforcement agencies including the Dickinson Police Department, North Dakota Highway Patrol, Stark and Dunn County Sheriff’s Offices showed up at Walmart to shop with less fortunate children and get them Christmas gifts. In prior years they took nominations from schools and social services. This year they took the application process online

The event was organized by the Fraternal Order of Police West River Lodge #5, one of nine throughout the state. Dickinson Police Det. Tiffany Whinery said they seek to make Christmas easier for kids from families that are struggling financially or have experienced trauma. For example, last year they served two families that had a parent die.

The children get paired up with an officer while a parent or guardian waits near the front of the store, and have an allowance to spend on whatever they want. She said it’s especially moving to see the selflessness some children display, focusing primarily on buying gifts for others.

“Some of the kids will get all gifts for themselves because they're excited and that's what they want, because maybe they don't get a lot of gifts at Christmas,” Whinery said. “Some kids are like, ‘Oh, I have to get a gift from my mom and my sister or my brother…’ They think about themselves last and they might get themselves one thing.”

Dickinson School Resource Officer Taylor Peters helps a little girl pick out her favorite toy.
Contributed / FOP Lodge 5

She added that they make a point to ensure the children are getting what they want.


“If we see them with a shopping list that parents made out, we try to typically take that away and be like, nope, this is your time to do what you want to do with this,” she said. “We try to provide a Christmas for kids that might not have a Christmas.”

Dunn County Deputy Jonathan Avalos is a school resource officer for schools in Killdeer and Twin Buttes. He said that helps him find children that could benefit most from the program. This year 51 children were helped by the program. He said he’s happy to see more officers and more kids show up every year.

“We've got a variety of children here. And at the end of the day, we want to service them. That's what we're here for. We're here to serve as our community,” Avalos said. “This is a way for all of us to come together as one and serve the youth of our communities.”

Santa with Stark County Sheriff's Lt. Eldon Mehrer and Canine Deputy Myria.
Contributed / FOP Lodge 5

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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