Santa Cops will come to town

Fundraiser set for Sunday

-Messenger file photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police Officer Matt Burns watches as Cassie Welch, 10, of Fort Dodge, tries on a pair of stylish glasses at the Fort Dodge Target Store during the annual Santa Cops event in 2016. The young aspiring fashion consultant had purchased many other items for her family.

The Santa Cops will soon be arriving in Fort Dodge to make sure area children have a happy holiday season.

The annual event, put on by the Fort Dodge Police Association, pairs a local law enforcement officer with a child from Webster County. Each child gets $100 that they can spend however they like at Target.

This year’s Santa Cops will be held on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13.

Participating agencies include the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol, Fort Dodge/Webster County Reserves and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

In preparation for the event, a fundraiser will be held tomorrow at Pizza Ranch, 3311 Fifth Ave. S.

-Messenger file photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Sheriff’s Deputy Amy Stringer gives Diamond Altman, 8, of Fort Dodge, a helping hand as she tries on a new pair of boots at the Fort Dodge Target Store during the annual Santa Cops event in 2016.

Sandy Markey, Fort Dodge Police Department secretary, said the fundraiser will be from 4 to 7 p.m.

“All donations and 7 percent of the sales during that time will go to Santa Cops,” she said.

The fundraiser will feature law enforcement officers at Pizza Ranch helping to bus tables.

This year, there will be about 113 children participating in Santa Cops.

Money for the event is raised through donations from the public and area businesses, according to Sgt. Steve Hanson.

“It has been completely funded by the community’s support,” Hanson said. “We send out letters every year looking for donations and every year the response is excellent.”

According to Fort Dodge Police Chief Roger Porter, this year the donations are about $5,000 less than they were last year, and the department is looking to raise some more money prior to the event.

He said the community has been extremely helpful in the ongoing success of Santa Cops.

“We’re just the managers of the money and the managers of the event,” he said. “It wouldn’t be possible without the help from the public and businesses from Fort Dodge and the surrounding communities.”

While the fundraising is going on right now, Hanson said the department will accept donations all year.

“They can donate at any time,” he said, adding he receives donations all year long.

Porter added that sometimes, people will donate money during the event itself.

The children who are selected for Santa Cops are provided by counselors from the schools, according to Markey. Participating children are between the ages of kindergarten and sixth grade

“The counselors know the needs of the families,” she said. “So that’s where we get the names.”

Hanson said Santa Cops allows the area law enforcement officers to give back to the community.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to give back and help out some kids and families that might not get stuff otherwise,” he said. “And it’s a great opportunity to get with the kids and families outside of our normal patrol. We get to spend 20 to 30 minutes with each kid and at that time, we’re an officer, obviously, but we’re taking them shopping. It’s a relationship that you couldn’t make otherwise.”

How to help:

Those interested in donating to Santa Cops can either drop off their donation at the Fort Dodge Police Department or send a check to the Webster

County Law Enforcement Center, 702 First Ave. S. The check should be made out to the Fort Dodge Police

Association, No. 8. Donations are

accepted all year long.