JOPLIN, Mo. — They say the holiday season is all about giving rather than receiving.
On Sunday, a tradition made its return to Joplin when one congregation came together to thank those who keep the community safe.
“Every year we do Local Impact Sunday the week before Christmas,” says Cody Walker, Hope City Church Lead Pastor. “We’re pretty pumped this year because it’s been a tough year too for them and we really do something to encourage them.”
Local Impact Sunday has become a tradition for Hope City Church in Joplin. Every year, the congregation bands together to serve and help the community.
Sometimes it could be packing a meal for someone in need, but on Sunday it was all about packing a bag.
“It’s our first year getting to bless our local law enforcement,” says Walker. “We’ve got about 1,500 people here today that are packing backpacks for 97 officers. So, we’ve taken every officer that is part of the Joplin Police Department and we’ve made a backpack, a tactical backpack just for them and we’re just piling goodies in it.”
Soon these backpacks filled with snacks, gifts and Christmas cards will find their way to those officers in Joplin.
Sloan Rowland, Joplin Police Chief, says, “It’s huge for the police department, I think law enforcement in the entire area. We’re very blessed in this area to have a core support, people that appreciate what we do daily, but it’s nice when they come out and our officers get to see that too.”
It’s this display of support from communities like Hope City Church that has helped the JPD, when law enforcement agencies across the country struggle with staffing shortages.
“Recruit, retention as you know is a challenge nationwide, but when you can say your public supports you, your citizens support you, and you have that community feeling, it makes it easier to recruit and retain the officers,” says Chief Rowland.
“The community loves our local law enforcement, sometimes they just need a vehicle or avenue to be able to express that,” says Walker. “And the men and women who wear the uniform are constantly serving the families in this community so we just wanted to return that and say ‘Man, you need to know how thankful we are for you.'”