In April 2004, Mark Mitchell and John Bowman, Sergeants with the Montgomery Police Department, started the “Cops for Christmas” Program. Plans were made to hold a golf tournament and with money raised purchase gifts to give to underprivileged children in the Montgomery area. After the initial plans were made, a call was made to the Department of Human Resources in Montgomery. They were told of out intentions and asked if they could provide children for the program. After a few minutes of silence and disbelief, our idea was welcomed with much enthusiasm. The first tournament was held at Lagoon Park Golf course in Montgomery where approximately twelve businesses sponsored holes and seventy-five golfers participated, raising nearly $10,000.00. After expenses were paid, we were able to buy approximately $7,500.00 in gifts for the children who were supplied by DHR. Each child compiled a wish list and with the help of several officers, we went shopping at Wal-Mart. We then help the Christmas Party, equipped with Santa Claus, food, drink, etc…, at Pete Peterson Lodge. The turnout was so great, it was standing room only.
The second year of the program was also a challenge. We wanted to make the program bigger and better that the year before. After numerous hours of campaigning, we hosted the second year’s tournament at the Arrowhead County Club. The participation doubled in size with over twenty business sponsorships, one hundred fifty golfers, and raising nearly $18,000.00. We also had numerous of volunteers who assisted with the program making it a huge success. The Christmas party was moved to Landmark Church of Christ where a traditional Christmas dinner was served to over two hundred persons. Approximately $12, 000.00 in gifts were handed out to over one hundred fifty children.
Now, going into our 5th year, we have even higher expectations. We hope that this program will grow each and every year and that the citizens of Montgomery will realize what a difference that they can make in a child’s life. We know that the success of “Cops for Christmas” depends on citizens and business owners in the Montgomery area and that no child will be left out during Christmas. We hope to not only provide cheer to these kids, but show them the real reason for the season!!!