Santa visits Kings students

Published 10:05 am Friday, December 16, 2016

In his busiest month of the year, Santa Claus took an hour of his time to visit the students at Kings Headstart Thursday morning.

Santa Claus, along with the rest of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Vicksburg Police Department, delivered presents to their adopted class of 3-year-olds.

“We felt as though it would be a good idea to volunteer and adopt a class,” Vicksburg police Capt. Sandra Williams said.

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Throughout the year, investigators visit the school and read to children through the “Real Men Read” initiative started at Sherman Avenue Elementary.

“I think the investigators felt like it was something they could reach out and help the center. And they volunteered services to help the center. It kind of just materialized from the reading program to the Christmas activities to the children,” Williams said.

This is the third year the investigations division has given presents to children at Kings Headstart, but it is the first year the division was given one specific class to adopt.

“This time we were matched with this particular class,” Lt. Troy Kimble said.

The Criminal Investigations Division pooled their money together to fund the project and the gifts. The division’s secretaries, Wanda Davis, Yvonne Simmons and Latonya Lush, were sent shopping and they also wrapped all the gifts along with Williams.

“We truly appreciate it from the bottom of our heart,” Antoinette Thornton, family community worker at Headstart, said.

Kimble called ahead to find out how many boys and girls were in the class. Based on gender each of the 16 children got the same toy, he said, in order to ensure fairness and equality among the students. He wanted to make sure not to promote bullying based on who received what gift and instead let the children know the department is here for them and sees everyone the same.

“I’m so happy. Some of these kids are less fortunate, and I’m just happy everybody was able to get a gift from the police department,” teacher Shodone Holly said.

Kimble said it is important for the investigators to build relationships with the community and especially young people in the hopes of bridging the divide other communities see between law enforcement and citizens.

“We want to make sure we outreach to the young people at this age and show them that the police are not just someone they see when times are bad,” Kimble said. “We want them to understand we are here as friends. We are here as a part of this community. And we care about them because they are the future of this community.”

While there, Santa participated in the school’s Christmas parade through the halls with every teacher and student. For initiation purposes, the newest investigator Mario Grady was asked to play the role of Santa Claus, and Williams offered up his and the other investigators’ services as St. Nick to the community.

Kimble added the division is here to help the community year-round and not just during Christmas. He said this is just the beginning and he plans on implementing more programs for the division to connect with the public.

“You all are our future,” Kimble said to the class. “We just want to let you know we care about you and we’re here to support you.”