About 50 local children in need shopped, wrapped presents, made crafts and ate with public safety workers December 16 for the 3rd annual “Holiday with a Hero” event through the Kops for Kids program.

“It gives them (the kids) the opportunity to go shopping for their needs,” Detective Lucas Killick, director of the program, said. “The whole goal of the program is to create that positive relationship with public safety.”

Social workers, counselors and teachers within the Wisconsin Dells School District sent applications home with students in need, he said. The parents or guardians of these children filled out the application and submitted it to the Lake Delton Police Department.

The children selected were each paired up with a member of public safety from the Lake Delton, Wisconsin Dells and Baraboo Police Departments, the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department, the Delton and Kilbourn Fire Departments, and Dells-Delton EMS. About 25 members participated this year, he said.

The day began with the public safety workers getting to know the children and their parents over a continental breakfast of pastries and cereals. During the breakfast, the workers learned the needs of the child he or she was paired with.

Killick said Able Trek Tours provided a coach bus to transport the children and their public safety partners to Walmart. Each student was able to spend about $150 to $200.

“The focus is making sure the needs are filled first,” he said. “Then, they can get toys and gifts, whatever makes them happy.”

After shopping, the students refueled with a Moosejaw pizza party in the Spring Hill Elementary School cafeteria. The children could make ornaments, small pillows and Christmas picture frames, he said.

Gift wrapping supplies were placed on tables and volunteers from Kohl’s Department Store of Lake Delton and Wyndham Vacation Resorts at Glacier Canyon helped with wrapping, he said. Volunteers also assisted with serving food and the setting up and taking down of the event.

At the end of the festivities, St. Vincent de Paul gave each family Christmas dinner, complete with ham and vouchers for perishable items like milk, Killick said.

“Holiday with a Hero” is the Kops for Kids program that receives the most funding, he said. This year, about $7,000 went towards it. The program is funded by businesses throughout the Wisconsin Dells area and through monetary donations.

Other Kops for Kids programs include a scholarship program, a winter clothing program, and a program providing equipment for children who want to partake in sports, but can’t afford it.

Kops for Kids was started in 1999 by Detective Kristi Seidl and Mayor Brian Landers, Killick said. Before the “Holiday with a Hero” program began, Kops for Kids would give out applications and fill children’s wish lists. “Now, we’ve selected those kids who are in need, take them for the shopping trip and create that one-on-one relationship versus just handing out the gifts,” he said.

Killick began volunteering with Kops for Kids in 2000. He joined the Lake Delton Police Department in 2008.