All it takes is one story about an 8-year-old girl who got nothing but abused on her birthday to understand why donations of backpacks full of useful and cheerful items for children are so important to the Dodge City Police Department.

Western Beverage this week dropped off a pallet of goods collected from every Dodge City employee to benefit children who find themselves temporarily under custody.

Dodge City Police Lt. Colleen Brooks described the joy on the face of the 8-year-old child who received a Disney princess backpack from the department after officers removed her from an abusive household. The fact she was allowed to keep the backpack for herself was even better, Brooks said.

“It’s all about having them feel a little bit better,” she said. “I could tell you stories like that all day long.

"When you're in foster care you often have to throw your stuff in a garbage bag.”

The backpack donation also included many of the necessities children need going into foster care like toothbrushes, bottles, clothes and blankets, as well as gift certificates to McDonald’s, packaged snacks and coloring books to help occupy them while they stay at the department.

Western Beverage president John Bogner said his business always chooses an organization to donate something meaningful to for the holidays.

When he described how frequently members of the police department used their own money to purchase items for children in their custody, “it kind of hit home with anyone who has kids,” he said. “They would do anything to brighten that moment. You don’t want children to go through that.”

Brooks said the Dodge City High School TALC group, a suicide prevention advocacy group which stands for Talk, Acknowledge, Listen and Care, was in 2017 the first to organize a donation drive to benefit the neglected and abused children the department takes into custody.

In 2018 Real Estate Professionals followed suit. This is the second year Western Beverage reached out to DCPD with donations.

"They showed up like Santa,” Brooks said. “I’m so grateful to Western Beverage and Real Estate Professionals and TALC, who've been great all along the way. When you do something like this, you're directly impacting an abused child and making that connection with what you're doing.”

For more information about how to donate to this cause, contact Brooks at 620-225-8126 ext. 1218 or email her at colleenu@dodgecity.org.

Brooks warned the department does not accept used clothing or used teddy bears because of the bedbug epidemic.