BURLINGTON, N.J. (WPVI) -- Officers with the Burlington City Police Department delivered book after book to school children at local elementary schools, including the Captain James Lawrence School.
Copies of "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein were wrapped up as the gifts they are and passed along to the awaiting children.
"I was really excited to open this gift," said second grade student Aniesha Covington. "The boy has a tree that's his friend. I think that's really cool."
This past summer, the police department applied for the Detective Matthew L. Tarentino Community Policing Grant offered by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office. Through the grant program, the department was awarded $10,000. With the funding, the police department held two special events for students. This was the second.
Over the past month, officers from the Gang Resistance Education and Training program went to classrooms to read "The Giving Tree," and then today officers delivered copies to each student in first, second and third grades.
"It's a great story," said prosecutor Scott Coffina-Burlco. "And it's a great connection this police department makes with the community."
Organizer Ofc. Robert Perro explains this is all part of building relationships within the communities they serve.
"We want the kids to know if there's a problem and they see a police officer that, you know, I've seen him before, I can go to him talk to him," said Perro.
Administrators at the school agree with this approach.
"It gives the boys and girls an opportunity to see police officers, not just in their role as police officers, but also as community members who are vested in their education," said Principal Sherry Knight.
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Burlington City Police Department donates books to local school children