INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 health and safety restrictions are forcing two major December traditions to change course.
More than 500 area families count on the annual shopping events sponsored by several law enforcement groups. There will be no cancellations this year, just changes.
Last year at the "Trooper Bartram Christmas for Kids" event on the southside of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Police, Southport Police, and others took children in need shopping for clothing and toys.
COVID-19 is forcing this annual event to change.
This year there will be no mass shopping, so a member of law enforcement will be paired with a family and they will coordinate a time they can do shopping together at any nearby Walmart or Meijer store. If a family isn't comfortable doing that, the officer will get the child's wish list, do the shopping, and make the delivery.
This year each child will be allotted $150, that's $25 more than in 2019.
Master Trooper Patrick Etter has already shopped with one family.
"We went Christmas shopping and bought her Christmas for this year," Etter said. "She had fallen on some hard time which has happened to a lot of people, with people losing their jobs."
For years hundreds of kids have benefitted from this December tradition named in honor of State Police Trooper James Patrick Bartram, who was killed in the line of duty in March 1998.
"It's important for us to do and give something back to the communities that we all serve," Etter said.
Christmas for Kids is also working with families in New Salem in Hendricks County and an Indianapolis school committed to children with autism.
The Indy Fraternal Order of Police is also working on new arrangements to serve its families. Last year the event helped a record 350 families, which included shopping, breakfast, and lunch. We're waiting on getting details on the changes due to COVID-19.