Hugs, smiles for Cops and Kids

Published 10:39 pm Friday, December 6, 2019

While waiting to pick out Christmas gifts at the North Main Street Walmart as part of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 41 Cops and Kids event, 8-year-old Deanna Vick-Jarrett forged an instant bond with Isle of Wight Deputy Maranda White.

So when it came time for participating law enforcement to pair up with children to help them pick out gifts, White knew she wanted to be paired up with Deanna.

“When I first walked up, she looked at me and put her arms out for a hug,” White said, “and that’s why I specifically picked her.”

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The connection was cemented as they made their way to the toy section when Deanna reached out for White’s hand and held it as they walked.

“You remind me of my aunt,” Deanna would later say to White.

Deanna picked out several items, torn among many things, but like the 17 children taking part, was able to pick out $120 worth of items for themselves and their families.

Deanna’s mother, Tyneki Vick, was happy to see her daughter connect with a police officer in the way she did. Almost immediately, Vick saw her daughter point to White and say, “OK, I want her.”

“She’s scared of police officers, so I wanted her to get to where she doesn’t have to be scared of them,” Vick said. “She opened up to her today. She normally doesn’t let anybody come around her in her space.”

Deanna was one of 17 children who had the opportunity to pick out gifts as part of the Cops and Kids event, which is in its 18th year and gives law enforcement officers an opportunity to shop with children that may otherwise receive little or anything for Christmas. The lodge collects donations throughout the year to pay for the purchases.

It’s a special event for FOP Director Allan Iversen and participating law enforcement.

“To us, the kids are the important thing,” Iversen said. “We’re able to give back to the community. The community helps us out with donations, and one thing we do with the donations is give it right back to the community and help out as many as we can.”

For Maj. David Miles of the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office, it was his first time participating in the event, but he was full of smiles and locked in on helping 9-year-old Tamya Jennings pick out her gifts.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Miles said. “Her smile is worth a million dollars. You get to see the immediate joy that it creates.”

Tamya’s mother, Tina Hill, said that with four children, she is thankful for the help in providing Christmas gifts.

“It’s a happy feeling,” Hill said. “She’s been talking about it all day. She’s been excited about it.”

It was a happy feeling for White, too.

Before she left the store, Deanna made sure she gave White a gift — some of her favorite chocolate.

That’s the feeling that will stay with White, who forged a new bond and friendship with Deanna.

And Deanna got to see someone in law enforcement in a different and more positive way.

“It’s great to see the kids smile and enjoy themselves and have fun,” White said. “They get to actually meet police officers when they’re not working to see that we’re just normal people, and we’re here to help.”