Shop with Panther Police donations open until Friday

By HASKEL BURNS,

There’s still a couple of days left for parents, students and faculty members to donate for this year’s Shop with the Panther Police program, which allows members of the Petal School District Police Department to take children from around the school district Christmas shopping.

During the fundraiser, which began last month and runs until Friday, students from district schools are encouraged to raise funds that will allow the department to bring 12 children to Walmart in Petal on December 12.

“A lot of it is just helping kids, and we’re seeing a lot of kids that don’t have things that other kids have, but still want some things,” said Gavin Guy, chief of the district police department. “It makes us all feel good to help, so whatever we can do to help in any way we can, we want to help them have a good Christmas.”

After the fundraiser ends, each school will send a list of students’ names to a selection committee, who will choose the 12 children to go shopping with the officers. Each officer will be assigned a student to shop with, and Superintendent Matt Dillon and Assistant Superintendent Andy Schoggin also will each accompany a student.

“So we take those shopping, and then we go back and look at the names that didn’t get selected to go shopping,” Guy said. “We’ll go and talk with them and ask them one big thing they’d like to have, and whatever money we have left, we’ll spend it on them.

“Like last year, we brought 12 kids shopping and we bought for 20 kids.”

This year marks the fifth year of the program, which Guy said is growing every year.

“Of course, we couldn’t do that without the help of the faculty and staff, and also other kids that bring and donates,” Guy said. “It’s gotten bigger and better every year.

“This year will be even better, and we’ll try to provide for those kids that we don’t get to take shopping. Each school does something different as far as the fundraiser, and they get the faculty, staff and students involved.”

At Petal Primary School, classrooms compete against each other for three prize levels during the fundraiser. When a class raises $25, they are awarded a pajama party, and when a class raises $50, they get a pajama party along with a Christmas movie.

If a class raises $100, the teacher and teacher assistant are placed in a drawing for a gift card from one of several businesses around Petal.

“We’re really talking about humility and contentment right now, and so that’s been our focus,” primary school principal Tessa Trimm said. “We’ve been talking about how an act of humility would be to give, and then contentment would be to say that we’re good with what we already have.”

The primary school set a goal of $1,500 for the fundraiser, which was surpassed earlier this week.

“We actually brought in $429 (on Tuesday), so we’re at $1,850 right now,” Trimm said. “One of the awesome things that happened is that we capitalize on Giving Tuesday, so we put a big post out talking about that, and we talked to the kids about it.

“So we had our biggest donation collection on Giving Tuesday, which is pretty cool. Since we reached our school goal, everybody’s going to hit that $25 mark one way or another.”