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Fraternal Order of Police to begin raising funds for 'Shop With a Cop'

LAWRENCEVILLE - Ray Dunlap, a seasoned policeman, knows the holiday season can bring the seediness out in some people.

He wants you to know the local F.O.P. Lodge 66 isn't comprised of those people.

Though not yet Halloween, the lodge launched its "Shop With a Cop" holiday fundraiser this week, as it usually does this time of year. Its lifeblood is cold calls to private citizens and businesses.

"Law enforcement in this county does a lot of things besides protect you," said Dunlap, president of F.O.P. Lodge 66, and a Gwinnett police retiree.

Over the last two years, the Gwinnett County Police Department has received myriad complaints from citizens wary that F.O.P. callers aren't legitimate, bearing down officers with unnecessary work. Dunlap stresses that police have their own philanthropies, and though it may be confusing, "Shop With a Cop" is not among them.

"Tax money supports the police department - we're not the police department," Dunlap said.

F.O.P. volunteers are soliciting donations from businesses, but will broaden the effort to include Gwinnett home phones lines as the fundraiser gains steam, Dunlap said.

The goal is to provide between $100 and $200 in gifts for lesser privileged kids who'd otherwise be empty-handed come Christmas. Between 75 and 100 kids, each suggested by the Division of Family and Children Services, should benefit this year, Dunlap said.

The fundraiser started Monday and will stretch until the week before Santa's big jaunt.

The lodge, organized in 1982, has put on the "Shop With a Cop" drive for the last 15 years or so, Dunlap said. The group runs a similar, summertime drive for kids in need of school supplies.

Dunlap urged citizens to call him who may be wary of callers who describe themselves as police.

"We'll help prosecute anybody making fictitious calls right along with the police department," Dunlap said. "We don't want the name of the police department - or the name of the lodge - sullied in any way."

To donate directly, or to inquire about the "Shop With a Cop" fundraiser, call organizer Ray Dunlap at 404-925-0487