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FOP Children's Christmas just got bigger, better | News, sports, jobs

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The Inter-Mountain Photo by Edgar Kelley Elkins City Police Sgt. CG Boatwright helps a youngster wind up a yo-yo at the Fraternal Order of Police’s annual children’s Christmas party held Saturday at the Phil Gainer Community.

ELKINS – For the 30th consecutive year, the Seneca Trail Lodge 104 of the Fraternal Order of Police held its annual children’s Christmas party, with this year’s bash on Saturday at the Phil Gainer Community Center.

Nearly 150 selected applicants came to the event which provided gifts to children from Randolph, Barbour, Tucker, Pocahontas, Pendleton and Grant counties.

“It’s priceless to see these kids have a smile on their face as they open their presents,” said Lodge 104 chairman David VanMeter. “It was a really special day for all of them and we look forward to doing it for many years to come.”

This year’s event was much bigger than previous years. VanMeter said, noting that moving the event to the Phil Gainer Center allowed for a bigger and better party for the kids.

“We used to just have a party in our clubhouse,” he said. “Down there the kids pretty much came by, got their presents, visited Santa for a minute and then left.

“This year we added a few inflatables and several other things for the kids to do during their visit. This is by far the biggest party we’ve ever had. I think all the kids that came out stayed for the whole two hours of the party.

Each child not only received a gift of their choice, but also took home hats and gloves to keep them warm during the winter months. VanMeter said more than $18,000 was spent on the party, which was split into two different timeslots.

Children from Randolph and Barbour counties attended the second session from 10 a.m. to noon, while children from Tucker, Pocahontas, Pendleton, and Grant counties attended the second session from noon to 2 p.m.

“We spent at least $100 on each child so they could get the gifts they wanted,” VanMeter said. “Some of the gifts they asked for were bicycles, scooters, karaoke machines and tablets. They certainly got much better presents this year than in the past.”

VanMeter said the celebration and gifts would not have been possible without much help from the community.

“There were many businesses and individuals in the community this year who pitched in and helped with this event,” he said. “We have received a huge amount of donations and if we hadn’t, we couldn’t have done it. We sponsored the event, but it was funds that came in from the community and the six provinces that made it possible.”

Along with the inflatable bouncers that kids played in during the party, kids could meet Santa, hang out with the Grinch, and visit elves. There was also live music, snacks and other activities.

“We had a lot of FOP members interacting with the kids,” VanMeter said. “They helped many of the children open their presents, played ball with them and did a lot of other little things. The children and our members both really enjoyed it.”

VanMeter said he hopes future FOP Christmas parties will continue to grow and will be held at the Phil Gainer Community Center.

“We’re going to make sure it’s as big as this year,” he said. “As long as we keep the funds flowing and continue to receive help from the community, we will try to keep it in that location.”

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