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The Suburbanite
  • 'Christmas with a Cop' helps families in need

  • Fraternal Order of Police Tuscora Lodge No. 4 held its fourth annual “Christmas with a Cop” holiday program Saturday. Police officers, in and out of uniform, distributed gifts alongside Santa Claus, who met with the younger children.
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  • It had been a long, rough year for Tammy Moreer and her son — a long, rough three years, actually. She faced employment struggles and the loss of loved ones while trying to raise her 10-year-old by herself.
    But it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that struck her Saturday as she sat across a table from her son, Michael, at the New Philadelphia Elks Lodge. Her body shook with sobs as she saw the bags of toys and gifts that were about to be distributed to her family and several others that are in a difficult spot at Christmas time.
    Fraternal Order of Police Tuscora Lodge No. 4 was throwing its fourth annual "Christmas with a Cop" holiday program. Several police officers, in and out of uniform, were present to distribute gifts alongside Santa Claus, who met with the younger children.
    "It's great they do stuff like this," Moreer said at last.
    If it hadn't been for the organization, Moreer said, "it would have been a so-so Christmas, not as good as I would have liked it to have been."
    Only a short time beforehand, the New Philadelphia woman received a phone call from the organization telling her that she and her son, Michael, had been selected for the program.
    Each year, members of the organization ask teachers in Tuscarawas County school districts for a list of students who would benefit from some extra help at Christmas time. After receiving a list of children and their wish lists, the members purchase as many of the items on their lists as possible with funds donated by local sponsors.
    For Moreer, this was a much-needed break, and she said so to the woman who called her on the phone.
    "I was so emotional," she said. "I started crying."
    After all, she felt Michael deserved a lot. "He's always 'Whatever you get me, mom, I'll be happy with it.'
    "He understands," Moreer said of her youngest child, whom she can picture becoming an architect due to his creative nature and fascination with science.
    Michael was grateful to the police officers and members of the FOP who helped him and his mother. "It's good that they're here," he said.
    In total, 13 families and roughly 31 children like Michael, were assisted this year, according to Robert W. Everett, president of FOP Lodge No. 4.
    "The Fraternal Order of Police feels the need to help those families and children who, through no fault of their own, can't help their situation," Everett said.
    Everett and his family had more personal reasons to be involved as well. Everett's wife, Tammi and his father-in-law, Jack Shores, were present not only to support the program, but to honor the memory of Sandra Shores, who passed away nearly two years ago.
    Page 2 of 2 - In memory of his wife of 56 years, Shores had purchased gift certificates from Giant Eagle to give to each family. "Sandra was a very good-hearted person," Shores said. "She loved kids and could not do enough for them."
    In fact, she had made an unusual request. "Instead of flowers, she wanted her casket to be surrounded by toys for kids," Shores said.
    While that hadn't been possible, the family had requested donations, which went to causes such as Share-a-Christmas. And this year, her memory was served by sending donations to the families supported by the FOP.
    The program also brings joy to the officers.
    "With our job, we deal with a lot of negative situations — kids from broken homes and domestic issues," said New Philadelphia Police Sgt. Ty Norris. "For us to do this and have a positive impact, they get to see us in a different light," he said. "This is probably the best part of the job."
    And as a parent, Norris said, it's a great feeling to help make other children's Christmases, as well as act as a role model for children in the community.
    "One of the biggest things we strive for is letting the kids know they can't be scared of us," Norris said. "If they need help, they can come to us."
    Reach Meghan at 330-364-8419 or meghan.millea@timesreporter.com
    On Twitter @mmilleaTR