PORT ORCHARD — Officers Amy Coull and Cliff Higashi took a brief detour from their usual duties with the Port Orchard Police Department to visit the area’s Walmart Superstore while on a mission that’s sure to bring cheer to dozens and dozens of South Kitsap children and young adults.
Coull, the department’s public safety officer, and Higashi strolled along the aisles of the electronics department in search of miniature Bluetooth speakers that will delight some lucky young people who otherwise would have a less-than-joyful Christmas this year. Audio accessories, plastic heavy-construction play equipment toys and a child’s fishing pole were just a portion of the booty they collected Tuesday that will fit nicely under the “Giving Tree” Christmas fir that currently sits inside the city’s police department headquarters.
This holiday giving was made a little easier, thanks to generous financial support from the Port Orchard Walmart store and manager Doug Goodin, whose contributions have enabled Coull to backfill empty space under the tree with gifts appropriate for kids and young adults.
“We’re eternally grateful to Doug for Walmart’s help with this project,” said Coull, who helped organize the effort, while shopping at the store alongside Higashi.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with support from our community,” she said. “And we’re excited to work with South Kitsap Helpline and assist them any way that we can.”
Goodin said his Walmart store has been fortunate to have the backing of its corporate headquarters to provide the financial resources to help out in the community. He said Walmart has long been associated with the “Shop with a Cop” holiday campaign in which the company joins with law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to buy gifts for under-served families.
At the police department’s headquarters, the floor under the tree already is packed with unopened toys and gifts that have been contributed by South Kitsap residents who have dropped by over the past few weeks to leave items for placement under the “Giving Tree.”
Port Orchard Police Chief Matt Brown said his department’s campaign started the Monday after Thanksgiving with postings on Facebook inviting the community to contribute toys and gifts for the less fortunate.
When the “Giving Tree” effort concludes, Coull and her uniformed volunteers will take the contributed gifts on Friday, Dec. 13 to South Kitsap Helpline, which will distribute them based on a curated list they’ve created of needy members in the South Kitsap community.