Cops collect toys for needy

Conover Police’s Santa Cops program will help provide toys to more than 100 children this Christmas.

The Santa Cops program, initiated by a Conover police officer in 2008, gives toys donated by area residents and companies to children and families in need. Area school systems and Catawba County Social Services identify children and families that need assistance.

“The need is just so great,” said Conover Police Chief Steve Brewer.

“With the economic times and the unemployment rate in the county, the need is genuine. This is a way we can give back."

In addition to the Conover police station and city hall, Santa Cops has toy donation points at about 10 area locations, including Conover Home and Commercial Hardware, Untouchables, Walmart and Bada’s Boutique, among others.

Officers will collect the donation boxes today, and the presents will be wrapped Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church on 1st Avenue in Conover.

Conover Police Officer Shannon Roberts said despite great aid programs like the Catawba County Christmas Bureau and Hickory Police Department’s Cops for Tots, no amount of help is enough.

“There are a lot of families that don’t get on the Christmas Bureau,” Roberts said. “There’s not enough help out there. Even with all the help we have in this county, it’s not enough.

This year, about 400 toys for the Santa Cops program came from donations at a golf tournament held at Rock Barn Golf and Spa. The toy donation was part of a toy drive organized by Hannah Arsenault, the teenage daughter of Gavin Arsenault, Rock Barn club vice president.

The Santa Cops program is in its fourth year after being initiated by former Conover Police Officer Mike Harrison in 2008.

Harrison, who worked part-time for CPD, is now a lieutenant at the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, where he’s also continued the program.

“We are hoping to not only provide gifts to kids who are in need but also to show them we are here to help,” Harrison said in a statement on ACSO’s website. “The kids love the toys, but I think the greatest gift is the feeling the officers experience when they get to interact with these kids and see the joy in their eyes.”

In addition to presents being wrapped Saturday in Conover, gifts will be wrapped at the Catawba Valley Community College Alexander Center in Taylorsville at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

For more information on Santa Cops, search “Santa Cops” on Facebook or visit the Conover Police Department or Alexander County Sheriff's Office websites.