ST. LOUIS -- Farmington police officer Jeff Kostedt paid it forward through a law enforcement trust building program that turned his life around when he was a child. On Dec. 15, 2017 Kostedt helped brighten the holidays for underpriveleged children in the 25th annual St. Francois County “Shop with a Cop” program – a charity that served him 18 years ago when he was just seven years old. Kostedt and countless children from families in need are the reason the Electrical Connection has supported St. Francois County’s “Shop with a Cop” and helped re-energize a similar program in Ferguson, Mo.
As a child growing up in rural St. Francois County, Kostedt said his parents didn’t have the means to buy Christmas gifts. His life was such that he was afraid of the police. “I always thought they were going to take me away from my family,” said Kostedt. That changed in 1999 when he was selected along with dozens of disadvantaged children to participate in the St. Francois County “Shop with a Cop” holiday giving program.
“Jeff is an extraordinary example of how a community can work together to build trust and make a real difference in lives,” said Danny Miller, president of Farmington-based Total Electric. It was Miller who first engaged the Electrical Connection to support “Shop with a Cop” in 1993. The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the and the .
The St. Francois County “Shop with a Cop” program is among the oldest and largest in the nation. This years, it served more than 500 children. Over the past 25 years, the St. Francois County program has been supported by donations from business and civic organizations, including more than $65,000 from the Electrical Connection. The program pairs police with children to buy holiday gifts with donated funds.
“When Danny Miller brought the program to our attention 25 years ago, we never dreamed it would grow into this incredible act of kindness every year serving hundreds of children,” said Doug Martin, CEO St. Louis NECA. “’Shop with a Cop’ has been such a difference maker that can build trust in other communities.”
Last year, the Electrical Connection expanded its support, putting its partnership with Saint Louis FC to work with a fundraiser to support the St. Francois County program and reenergize the Ferguson, Mo. “Shop with a Cop” program. The fundraiser was held again this year. The Ferguson “Shop with a Cop” program was on December 13, 2017 at the Ferguson Community Center. The Electrical Connection donated $5,000 each to the Ferguson and St. Francois County programs.
“Our electricians and communication technicians not only serve these communities, but live in them as well,” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “They are committed to helping our neighbors in need year round.”
“We are grateful the Electrical Connection helped us again brighten the holidays for disadvantaged children in our community,” said Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss. St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock echoed those sentiments. “The Electrical Connection’s enduring commitment to our program has helped it grow into one of the largest in the nation,” said Bullock.
“Our Electrical Connection partnerships are more than just business development,” said Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection. “We actively listen to our partners to help them find worthy civic engagements that align with their mission. Such was the case with Saint Louis FC and ‘Shop with a Cop.’” The Electrical Connection was joined by Saint Louis FC at both “Shop with a Cop” events, distributing jerseys and soccer balls to the children.