Holiday shopping topped the morning and capped off the evening Monday in the first ever Adams County “Shop With a Cop” event at Wal-Mart in West Union.
The event was divided into two shopping excursions, the first at noon and the second at 5 p.m.
More than 30 local law enforcement officers made quite an entrance when they arrived at the store, with more than 50 children, who were treated to a shopping spree, compliments of the “Shop with a Cop” program.
It was as impressive as it sounded and the fanfare began at the fairgrounds where participants gathered for a breakfast to kick off the festivities. At noon, a procession of squad cars packed with officers and 27 children paraded down Main Street with lights flashing and sirens wailing. After the morning shop-a-thon, the children returned to the fairgrounds for a visit with Santa and a pizza lunch.
The process was repeated that evening with another group of children being treated to pizza and a visit with Santa before being paraded to Wal-Mart for their shopping spree.
Officers were paired with children, nominated by local schools, as they shopped the aisles buying toys, sporting goods, electronics, and clothes. Each child was given $150 to spend on themselves and on gifts for their family members.
“This is a fantastic program,” said Walmart manager Chris Dunn, “I’m just glad that we’re able to be here to provide the opportunity for them to shop. We’ll support them in any way we can.”
Officers from all the county police departments, the Sheriff’s office, and the Division of Wildlife participated in the Christmas outreach program that was sponsored by the Adams County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Lodge 31, the Sheriff’s Union, local school resource officers, and the Adams County Chiefs of Police.
All of the officers expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to take part in the program. “It is absolutely wonderful to see the kids faces light up when they pick a gift out,” said Deputy Randy Walters,”It has gone very well, it seems like everyone’s really happy, a lot of happy kids.”
The children clearly did enjoy the experience,”They’re so enthusiastic,” Deputy Don Adams told the Defender.
“This is really a great thing for the community and the kids,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Zach Wentz. “It gives us an opportunity to get out and show the community that we do care and it’s great seeing the smiles on these kids faces.”
The officers taking part in the program included: Zach Wentz, Shane Thatcher, BJ James, Brandon Asberry, Michael Mills, Kimmy Rogers, Micha Poe, Randy Walters, Scott Cartwright, Lisa Phillips, Tyler Riffle, Matt Windle, Ken Reed, Kevin Cross, Josh Frisby, Don Adams, Randy Copas, Cheryl Copas, Tim Sanderson, Sean Grooms, Scotty Fox, Margret Edwards, Matt Roberts, Jennifer Davis, Kendra Young, Jason Daniels, Jennifer Adams, Jennifer Davis, Mark Brewer, Brian Moore, John Shope, Rob Music, David Benjamin, Levi Shelton, Alexa McClanahan, Matt Windle, Brittany Stamper, Jason Mallott, Josh Hayes, Jeff Bowling, Samara Estes, Kristian Hughes, Kenny Corril, Sarah Murphy, and Ryan Myers.
“The community often has a negative image of police,” Deputy Walters said. “Shop with a Cop helps change that, the kids see we’re here to help as well as protect, they get to see us in a different light, interact with us just like they would with anybody else.”
Deputy Walters, President of the Adams County FOP, explained, “This was our first year to participate in the Shop with a Cop program and we plan on doing it again next year. We encourage everyone to donate to the program. It really does create a lot of happiness and good will.”
Shop with a Cop is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization with no paid employees. Donations, which are welcome and tax-deductible.
For more information or to make a donation, contact the Deputy Walters through the Adams County Sheriff’s Department. Anyone interested in donating may also contact their local law enforcement agency: Chief Roy Stricklett at the West Union Police Department (937-544-2512), Chief Jeff Bowling at the Manchester Police Department (937-549-3230), Chief David Benjamin at the Winchester Police Department (937-695-5502), Chief Kevin Cross of the Seaman Police Department (937-386-3230), and Chief Robert Music of the Peebles Police Department (937-587-3191).