LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) In Lynchburg, police officers and local organizations continue to focus on community policing.
In the beginning of December, members of the LPD’s Community Action Team joined One Community One Voice and went shopping for children in need. Thursday night, those children got to hang out with police officers and open the presents picked out specifically for them.
Local business owner Nathan Castello donated over $2,000 to fund the LPD shopping trip just for these kids. When each of the 20 children had their names called out, they hurried to the front to get their present. Many had wide eyes and open mouths as they looked inside the gift bags.
“I don't know I just like being cared about,” said Shawn Martin, who received a bag full of goodies.
These children know the value behind these presents.
“My mom…she has to work overtime to get us stuff,” said Mariah Randolph. “And it's probably going to be just not that much stuff.”
“It hurts my heart that some people don't have this opportunity. And I'm thankful that I do get this opportunity,” said Kori Randolph.
As they were opening gifts, the kids were seeing police officers in a setting that they're not used to.
“It makes me feel better about police officers because sometimes I just don't like police,” said Randolph. “But it makes me happy that they're thinking about us.”
“Making sure people see us as human beings who care about this community,” said Lynchburg Police Chief Raul Diaz.
It was a room filled with church members, community activists, local businesses owners, and police- working together to make a change across generations.
“You know because I didn't have this growing up. We were taught from the police, honestly,” said Miguel Moorman, a church member who brought his nieces to receive presents.
They are hoping to build those relationships one child, one present at a time.
“That we work closely with the community, build those bridges with the community. And we do that across the police department. This is just a part of that,” said Chief Diaz.