PATASKALA, Ohio — “It’s one of those things I go back to my childhood, honestly,” Pataskala Det. Bradley Ramsey said.
For six years, Ramsey has made it a priority to bring Christmas cheer to those who need it most in Pataskala.
“We need to let kids know that there’s still good people out there,” he said.
On average about 25-30 children a year are recipients.
Pictures from previous years show it. Shop with a Cop charters a bus and takes children to Target to pick Christmas presents.
Then, a special dinner for those children and their families was available at a local church. Ramsey estimates the annual price tag to be between $3,800 and $4,500 thanks to donations and fundraisers.
“This year they’ve just not been able to do those, so we’re in pretty dire straights at this point with the program,” Ramsey said.
Because of COVID-19, fundraising events haven’t been possible.
Luckily, Ramsey says thanks to putting away a rainy day fund for the event in case anything were to happen means this year is still a go.
Next year and the year after, he says, are currently in question.
“Not only are we looking at funding issues, [but] now our sourcing has been cut short because of schools being closed,” Ramsey said.
This year, the department is helping children in the Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school districts. It even contacted a local Secret Santa program trying to get more names.
COVID is at the core of this year’s need.
“I’m hearing a lot of ‘My wages were cut because of COVID’ or ‘I’ve lost my job because of COVID’,” he said. “Pretty much everyone I talk to there’s an underlying COVID theme.”
The need like the hurt and the sacrifice is greater this year than perhaps in years past.
Ramsey and his department do this to show someone is there and cares.
“Had someone done something like this for me, I couldn’t imagine what it would have meant,” he said. “So, if I can bring that joy to a kid it is by far indescribable.”
Understanding his answer helps to understand the importance of paying it forward.
Ramsey says the department will pick up all gifts this year next week and the gifts will be delivered Friday, Dec. 18.
If you would like to contact Det. Ramsey regarding the program, or to donate you can send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.