By Julie Meeks
What started out as reminiscing over coffee and planning for the future, quickly became a reality for Inlet Sergeant Toby Lindfield, thanks to the Inlet Youth Commission and the Fulton Chain Trifecta. During his previous time with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, Sergeant Lindfield participated in a “Shop with a Cop” program. His goal was to begin fundraising now in order to bring this type of program to Inlet in December of 2023. Mike Bartolotti of the Fulton Chain Trifecta and Adele Murdock Burnett of the Inlet Youth Commission quickly decided that Sergeant Lindfield didn’t need to wait until 2023 – he could make this a reality this year. And that he did.
Six children, from six different families, aged 5 through 8, were chosen to participate in the first ever Inlet Shop with a Cop event. On December 15, the children eagerly gathered at the Inlet Town Hall where they met up with eight different police officers, including six Town of Inlet and Town of Webb police officers, and two New York State troopers from Remsen. The children paired up with one or two police officers and set off shopping at two local stores – Mountain & Main, and the Inlet Department Store/Ace Hardware.
Shana Marleau, owner of Mountain & Main, provided festive Christmas cookies and a 20-percent discount off all items in the store. Lori, Maria and Becky from the Inlet Department Store provided free wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, candy canes, popcorn, and a 25-percent discount off all items in the store. The children shopped for their parents, siblings, grandparents, and even a few friends. The police officers encouraged the children by asking about their family members’ different interests and patiently walking around the stores with the children, looking over all of the items and discussing possible purchases.
Afterwards, they headed back to the Inlet Town Hall where the children and police officers worked together to wrap the gifts. Some of the presents ended up wrapped beautifully…while others just ended up wrapped. It was apparent that some of the police officers did not have a lot of experience with wrapping presents, and further training may be necessary. The group ended the night with complimentary pizza provided by Screamen’ Eagle, and popcorn and drinks provided by the Inlet Youth Commission.
The children were presented with gift bags from Kurt Gardner Photography Gallery which included 2 magnets, 2 stickers and 2 framed photographs of Inlet. All parties had a fun time and all of the parents were very appreciative when they picked up their children. One mother told us that as soon as her son woke up that morning, he was telling her that this was his day to, “Hang out with a cop.” Another mother told us her son was so excited to give his gifts because, “He likes to see people smile when they get gifts.”
This event is a great example of the area police departments fostering positive relationships with the community, as well as an excellent way to teach children that Christmas is about giving and doing for others. Everyone involved in this year’s event is hopeful this will become a yearly event for the community of Inlet. Event organizers expressed thanks to Sergeant Lindfield for bringing this idea to the area, and the Fulton Chain Trifecta and the Inlet Youth Commission for sponsoring this event.
Photo at top: Inlet’s first Shop with a Cop event. Photo by Julie Meeks.
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