Winter Haven Police Department Helps Families in Need for the 22nd Annual Operation Reach Out Event
By Allison Williams
On Monday, members of the Winter Haven Police Department gathered at Walmart in Winter Haven to shop for the 22nd annual Reach Out.
Operation Reach Out is an opportunity for local families to receive the Christmas they deserve.
“Families are selected by the school counselors,” said Officer Kris Bhoj of the Winter Haven Police Department. “Some of these families may have requested some sort of help from the counselor.”
Over 10 families will be given gifts this year thanks to members of the Police Department and business partners from around the community. Walmart donated funds so that officers could shop for these families.
Officer Bhoj has been with the Winter Haven Police Department for nine years and has participated in Operation Reach Out for those nine years.
He, along with Community Service Officer Katelyn Hoverkamp received their shopping list at Walmart and selected various items around the store with the help of Jackie, Walmart’s department manager. The items were selected based on each child’s wish list. Each child received a budget of $90.
Hoverkamp has been with the department for four years and participated every year since she joined the police department.
Once all the gifts were selected, they were sent off with the police department.
“Gifts are wrapped and delivered by myself and other WHPD staff,” Officer Bhoj said. “Gifts will be delivered Saturday, December 15.”
Both Officer Bhoj and Officer Hoverkamp find the experience rewarding year after year.
“My favorite part about participating in Operation Reach Out each year is having the opportunity to impact members of our community in such a positive way,” Officer Hoverkamp said. “Once you have your Operation Reach Out shopping list in hand and you’ve select the gifts that the children have on their list it just makes me really happy to know that when those children wake up on Christmas Day they are going to have a smile on their faces and love in their hearts.”
Officer Bhoj also enjoys seeing the happiness in the children as they receive their gifts. The gracious gesture does not go unnoticed.
“The kids don’t forget this experience easily,” Officer Bhoj said. “I get random hugs whenever they see me. It builds relationships with the community.”