Christmas will come early and often for southern Oklahoma as the exceedingly popular Shop With Cops program will now have a wider reach in the community.
Shop With Cops has expanded its mission with the newly organized Heroes with Hope of Southern Oklahoma Foundation.
Melissa Woolly, who has been appointed as the foundation’s executive director, said the scope of the foundation will expand into area health care facilities.
“We will be working with the community on many levels year-round to provide assistance to the youth in our community. Some of these programs will include, but are not limited to, bereavement boxes to area hospitals, cuddlecots for area hospitals, mentoring programs for  at-risk youth, in-school health education, summer water safety, preschool bicycle safety, meeting school faculty needs on various levels and the annual coat drive. These are just a few of the things that will be a part of the program. We will also continue the annual Shop with Cops program.”
 “I am very excited about the new opportunities that our new organization is going to bring to southern Oklahoma,” Kevin Butler, executive vice president of American Nation Bank, said. “Hero’s for Hope of Southern Oklahoma will be able to help our local communities in so many ways. Combining the work, efforts, funding of multiple organizations and individuals into one, all with our area as our major focus, is hopefully something that can be modeled and used in communities across the United States. The power of a community that cares is unlimited.”
The original APD Shop with Cops started approximately 30 years ago. In 2016, the program obtained 501c3 status and began planning the move in the direction Heroes with Hope of Southern Oklahoma Foundation to become more valuable to the community in partnership with the APD’s Fraternal Order of Police.
“As time continues there will be some fine tuning and we will continue to grow. Our hopes are to expand as we see what the needs are and hear from the community what they feel would be beneficial for our youth.” Woolly said.
Detective Matt Dunn, APD CSI Division, said, “I believe this change will allow our foundation to grow beyond words. Melissa brings the experience and guidance to us which will allow us to reach our community in new ways. We are excited about the direction our foundation is going, and hope to be able to make a lasting impact for our community.”
The long-term goal of Heroes with Hope of Southern Oklahoma is to encompass, not only Carter County, but the surrounding counties and beyond that.
“We are all very excited about the work we will be able to do while investing 100 percent of the funds raised right here in Carter County,” Woolly said
A fundraising campaign will launch in Spring 2018 ending with a community block party in celebration of the funds raised to support the program. Updates on the event will be announced as plans progress.
“As a police officer our job is to police the community and I am pleased to see Melissa as a fundraiser and a liaison between the community and the officers,” Cpl. Jarod Taylor, FOP secretary said. “I feel this will give myself and other officers more of an opportunity to be involved in different roles in the programs the foundation has planned, “ said Cpl. Jared Taylor, FOP Secretary.
Although the office, located at 16 E St., Suite 103, will not officially be open until Aug.1 volunteers are already working on the foundation’s first community project.
 “I am looking forward to bringing the community together,” Audie Gee, president of the foundation’s board of directors, said, “Working as one with the community, our police officers and our local businesses.”
Along with Gee volunteer members include: Dunn, Butler, Brandon Cathy, Phil Shepard, Cathy Alexander, Greg Elliott, Lisa Moore, Curtis Moore, Chris Sandvick, Danell Bray, , Iman DeBerry, Odeht Robina, and Gay Adkins
“We are currently collecting socks and underwear for the kids who will soon be starting school. If you would like to contribute you can contact me at (580) 319-8571 or drop off new socks and underwear for children ages 4 to 12 at the police department on the second floor,” Woolly said.