CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — Groups, organizers and donors visited the WCIA back parking lot throughout the day on Giving Tuesday, all working to make the community safer, part of the Victory Over Violence campaign. 

Two of the groups, like Rantoul Police Department’s Shop with a Cop program, and the YMCA’s Y on the Fly program spent their mornings in the lot gathering donations and sharing their stories.

Capricia Whittaker, the Y on the Fly director, said they go into underserved communities and provide kids with programming. 

She helps bring activities ranging from math, science, art and sports out of the Y and into Champaign neighborhoods. 

“The trauma could be at home, the trauma could be at school, and sometimes it’s just nice to have that unbiased place where you can let go and feel like you can be yourself,” Whittaker said. 

She said it’s important for kids to be in a new, safe environment with no judgment. They also have a program with law enforcement, Cocoa with a Cop. 

“We want to make sure that our communities feel safe but we also want to make sure that the community feels safe by the people that should be making them feel safe,” Whittaker said. 

Christina Reifsteck and the Rantoul Police Department have the same goal, creating a bridge through their “Shop with a Cop” program. 

“We shop for the kids, the kids get to come shop for their family,” Reifsteck said. 

She said teachers nominate the kids, and officers spend one-on-one time with them. 

“It gives children an opportunity to see what officers are really like as people, and not just what we do as a job,” she added. 

The money raised through the Victory Over Violence campaign will help the department shop for more gifts, and help Whittaker grow the YMCA program. 

She hopes that includes expanding the age group they get to work with. Right now, they focus on grades K-5. In the future, she wants to also work with 6th-8th grade, maybe even high schoolers.