A "Big Brother" has started a big initiative between The Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, Bettendorf Police Department and Walmart.
Bettendorf Police Detective Josh Paul, who has been with Bettendorf Police since 2004, was instrumental in starting the partnership. He has been involved in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for several years.
In the inaugural “Littles With Law Enforcement,” Bettendorf police officers will be matched with 20 “Littles” about 2:15 p.m. Sunday at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Davenport.
About 2:30 p.m., the officers and “Littles” will head to Walmart, 3101 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport, to participate in a shopping event. Each “Little,” who will have a $75 gift card to buy holiday gifts for their family members, will shop with a uniformed police officer.
After they shop, the group will return to the office for gift wrapping and pizza.
The event is cosponsored by Walmart and the Bettendorf Peace Officers Association.
Paul, whose “Little” is Kobe, 17, said that many children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program are in need. “They might be missing one or both parents in their lives,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to do something good for the community and for kids who really don’t have what a lot of us take for granted during the holidays.”
Paul, who has participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters for five years, was matched with Kobe, his “Little,” in 2012. “He’s really active in the ROTC program,” Paul said. “His grades are better now than they ever have been, and he’s a more social person now than he ever has been. He’s got goals for himself beyond high school.”
“When we do family Christmas stuff, he comes along,” Paul said. “My whole family knows him.” He said the strong Big Brothers Big Sisters program is a blessing to the Quad-Cities.
Walmart provided a grant for the new initiative, and the Bettendorf police union also helped.
“Our department has 45 officers, so I’m hoping to get almost a quarter of our police department to help out with this,” said Paul,
Jaime Keller, of Moline, senior director of the elementary mentoring program for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, said the organization appreciates all the support.
“Josh has been instrumental in spreading the word to his coworkers, to explain the need. A lot of our families are dealing with poverty and it’s a stressful time during the holidays,” she said. “He’s really been the one to run with it.”
“This experience will give the Littles an opportunity to see the joy of giving first-hand,” she said. “You should see the smiles on their faces, even when we just make a craft or a card to give to a family member!”
“Many would love to treat their family to special gifts, but strained finances make that difficult. They’re going to love this opportunity to give, and we thank the Bettendorf Police Department for creating this unique experience for them.”
For more information or to support the program, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at 563-323-8006.