The 26th district gives back with bikes

This year, PDAC partnered with Walmart and raised money from various local businesses to acquire 170 new bikes — one for every child who attended the event.

Student Isaac Thomas is very excited about his balloon art sword.

Nearly 170 children from 12 local elementary schools gathered at the Fillmore Philly Wednesday morning for the 26th Police District Advisory Council’s annual Christmas Party. The police district’s captain, Krista Dahl-Campbell, doesn’t know the exact number of years the party’s been happening, but she knows it’s been around for “at least 20 years.”

“It’s been a long-running tradition,” she said. “We just try each year to improve it, and this year we’re super excited because every child will be leaving with a bike.”

Which is different from previous years. In the past, one boy and each girl would be given a bicycle, according to Dahl-Campbell. But this year, PDAC partnered with Walmart and raised money from various local businesses to acquire 170 new bikes — one for every child who attended the event.

Children had the opportunity to have balloon animals made for them, get their face painted and even meet Santa Claus and some of his elves.

“Having a sense of community and really working together to make the holiday season great for all the people in the community,” said Councilman Mark Squilla, who was present at the event. “In these times, sometimes police are looked at as the enemy, but this [event] makes children and the community realize that they’re our partners. They’re partners with the young people growing up in the neighborhood, they’re partners with the residents in the neighborhood and … this just adds to that so that young kids can look up to the police officers as being a positive influence in their neighborhoods.”

Students Noah Staab and Edward Walker play with coloring books given to them by the 26th district at the district’s annual Christmas Party.

Dahl-Campbell echoed that sentiment.

“I think it’s important to show the kids that they have a strong community support and that community includes the police department,” she said. “We work and live in the same communities in the city and we want to make sure the kids know that we are a group of people who want to help them if they have a problem. So to help them have a sense of familiarity with us is important to us. And it’s also important to our officers to get that opportunity to interact with the kids and specifically also see a lot of difficult things, and this is a chance for them to have a really nice day with people who live in this district.”

(From left) Briah Carballido-Robler, Bekeyah Gray, Jada Hall and Dyeema Williams, students from James R. Ludlow School, pose for a picture at the 26th district’s annual Christmas Party.

Each of the following schools had students represented at the Christmas party: Alexander Adaire School, Henry A. Brown Elementary School, Horatio B. Hackett School, Hunter Elementary School, John F. Hartranft School, William McKinley School, Saint Laurentius School, Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic School, James R. Ludlow School, John Moffet School, John Welsh School and Visitation B.V.M Catholic School. According to the 26th district, the 14 students from each school were selected by the school’s principals and staff.