By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (December 23, 2022) – Led by a firetruck, a small caravan of police cars made its way north on Torrence Avenue on Monday, December 19, as Lansing police officers brought 27 middle schoolers to Walmart for a pre-Christmas shopping spree.
A tradition first started by officer Wilson Pierce, the program has waned in recent years, but was back in full swing this year, organized by Deputy Chief Steve Roberts and Sergeants Scott Butler and Dana Tatgenhorst.
Walmart donated $2,500 towards the shopping spree, and the Lansing Fraternal Order of Police #218 donated $250, giving each middle schooler about $100 to spend.
As students weaved through the Walmart aisles accompanied by LPD officers, they selected gifts for themselves and their families. The students that received the shopping spree were picked in collaboration with local schools.
“A lot of them bought gifts for their family members, which was very humbling and nice to see,” said Lansing Police Chief Al Phillips.
Some gifts were wrapped on the scene by LPD staff before the students were brought back to school.
Phillips said, in addition to the generosity, a positive of the day was seeing kids interacting with police officers in a positive environment.
“We’re trying to build that relationship, and we’re working hard at it,” Phillips said. “It helps to build that connection between us and our community, and kids getting to know us and not be afraid of us.”
Lansing Walmart is located at 17625 Torrence Avenue.
- Video: Walmart cuts ribbon on remodel, new services (September 9, 2022)