Law enforcement officers serve dinner to help kids at Christmas

Chief of Police Scott Bieber serves patrons their meals

Chief of Police Scott Bieber serves patrons their meals Photo by Michael Lopez.

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WALLA WALLA — Local law enforcement had a chance to protect and serve dinners at a Cops & Kids fundraiser Friday evening at Applebee’s.

“They are here because they know how important this is for Cops & Kids day,” Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tom Cooper said.

This year, the Fraternal Order of Police sponsored the event to support Cops & Kids, which is a program where local officers raise thousands of dollars to help by presents for needy families at Christmas.

The funds raised Friday will be used Dec. 14 to buy gifts for roughly two dozen families.

How Cops & Kids works is a team of officers pairs up to help one boy or girl buy gifts for every member of the child’s household.

During the shopping spree, the officers also figure out what the boy or girl wants for his or her gift, which is then secretly taken off the rack at Walmart, paid for and wrapped.

The remaining gifts are also wrapped and delivered to the child’s home.

“To watch and see these kids, and to look on their faces when you go into their home with the presents, and you see they have nothing,” Cooper said. It is both rewarding but also an eye-opening experience to the poverty many children face.

Friday’s fundraiser was the third year Applebee’s wait staff has worked with officers to encouraged customers to donate their tips.

In 2011 and 2012, close to $2,000 was collected at similar Tip-A-Cop fundraisers for the Special Olympics. Those events were also where Walla Walla Police Officer Ascension Castillo got his biggest tip ever.

“I still got the record for the largest tip, $800 from Tom Watson. I still hold the record,” Castillo said.

And he jokingly added that the kids aren’t the only ones who benefit. “This is the only time I get to tell the Chief what to do.”

Throughout the evening, Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber was seen serving and waiting on Applebee’s customers.

Restaurant General Manager Tim James said similar fundraisers have taking place at other Applebee’s restaurants. He added that officers perform all the duties of normal wait staff with the exception of one.

“They can’t serve alcohol,” James said. “This fundraiser is good for us too. Friday evening is usually busy and they bring in a little more for us. And that is nice.”

The fundraiser lasted from 6-8 p.m. and involved officers from College Place, Walla Walla Sheriff’s Office and Walla Walla Police.

“They really keep you busy. And they are hard workers and you got to keep up with them,” Castillo added.

To donate to Cops & Kids, call the Walla Walla Police during business hours at 527-4434.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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