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Cops helping kids through United Way

Tyler Adair, 7, of Westpark, signs a $50 voucher to a local store, given to him by Bremerton Police officer J.D. Miller as part of United Way’s Kids and Cops program, benefitting children in need. - Photo by Kassie Korich
Tyler Adair, 7, of Westpark, signs a $50 voucher to a local store, given to him by Bremerton Police officer J.D. Miller as part of United Way’s Kids and Cops program, benefitting children in need.
— image credit: Photo by Kassie Korich

United Way of Kitsap County’s Kids and Cops program gives new meaning to police intervention.

In an effort to create a positive relationship between law enforcement and local families as well as help children in need, United Way has joined forces with the Bremerton Police Department and local merchants.

Officers participating in the community pilot program are given vouchers for $25 or $50 to pass out to local children when a real need is recognized. The vouchers — valid at Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart or J.C. Penney Co. Inc. — are good for needed items such as clothes, food and school supplies.

“I think it’s great the community has something like this and can give out vouchers to kids who need it,” said Tanya Stansberry, a resident of Westpark.

Her 7-year-old son, Tyler Adair, received a voucher for $50 earlier this week and was invited to participate in United Way’s ad campaign. As she watched her son get his picture taken with Bremerton Police officer J.D. Miller, who filled out a voucher for him, she already knew what it would go toward.

“I plan on getting him socks, jeans, and maybe a pair of shoes,” Stansberry said.

The voucher comes as a welcomed relief for the mother of four.

“It’s a little bit of a relief,” she said. “I’m stressed out about where money’s coming from.”

Not only is the voucher vital for the family in a time of need, but Stansberry is happy Tyler is able to have positive interaction with a local police officer.

“I want to make sure (my kids) have respect for law enforcement,” she said. “There’s a lot of kids where we live that don’t.”

Through the program, United Way officials are hoping to change that negative outlook.

“A lot of folks see police as a threat instead of an ally or resource, we hope this will change their perspective,” said Patricia Hennessy, director of resource development for United Way of Kitsap County.

Now that the kinks in the pilot program have been worked out, United Way is hoping to bring Kids and Cops to communities throughout the county.

“The Bremerton Police Department was our pilot police department,” Hennessy said. “Our ultimate goal is to export this throughout the county ... Needs don’t have boundaries.”

To get the program going, United Way initially committed $10,000 in seed money. The organization hopes to raise additional funds for the program through a June 19 golf tournament. Officials also are hoping to include Kids and Cops in United Way’s workplace campaigns as a line item designation so people can donate directly to the program.

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