A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington’s Sleighbells & Sirens continues to grow, spreading more holiday cheer to more kids

By Steve Oldfield
Children, Inc.

Covington police officers were able to take more disadvantaged kids Christmas shopping this year, thanks to an increase in donations.

The Fraternal Order of Police normally pays for 12 kids (two from each Covington grade school) to go on a $250 shopping trip for their families.

Help from a friend with gift-wrapping.

The kids then get help wrapping the presents during a pizza party at the Center for Great Neighborhoods, where Santa surprises them with their own present worth about $50.

This year, donations from the public and a fundraiser at Glenn O. Swing Elementary helped the FOP to take seven more kids shopping.

“We’ve gotten a lot of help from the community this year,” said Covington Detective Sarah Lusardi. “We’ve had so many people coming in off the streets and giving us money.”

Lusardi said she had no trouble recruiting more officers to help. “The officers get to see a different side of police work,” Lusardi said. “It’s always fun to bring a little bit of joy to a kid’s day.”

Employees at the schools’ family resource centers select the students.

“They’re kids who are getting good grades, aren’t causing problems in school and their families just need a little bit of help,” Lusardi said.

The officers say the program is about a lot more than spreading Christmas cheer. “Most of the kids don’t have a very pleasant view of police so this gives them a good memory of being with the police officers for a day and that we do good things too,” Lusardi said.

It’s been a lot of work over the six years she has been involved, but the detective is not complaining.

“This is my most favorite thing I do all year,” Lusardi said. “When I get down, this brings me joy. This is why I love my job.”

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