Local law-enforcement officers bring Christmas cheer to community kids –
By Patricia Beech –
Fifty Adams County children will have a merrier Christmas this year thanks to the efforts of local law enforcement agencies participating in the second annual Shop With a Cop program.
According to Deputy Randy Walters the purpose of Shop With a Cop s two fold – providing kids a good Christmas while building positive relationships with law enforcement.
“Children often see the negative side of law enforcement when we have to come out to arrest their loved ones, so this event gives them the opportunity to see that we are caring people, that we do care about them,” Walters said. “It’s an opportunity for us to reach out to children who are at risk or who don’t have the means to have a good Christmas – we want them to see us as friends.”
The two Shop with a Cop events will be held at noon and 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22 at the West Union firehouse on Logans Lane. The participating children will ride in a parade through West Union to Walmart where they will shop with an officer before returning to the firehouse for lunch, a visit with Santa, and a dance (with music provided by an officer acting as DJ).
The program, sponsored by the Adams County Sheriff’s office, is organized in conjunction with the Fraternal Order of Police by local police chiefs, including Rob Music from Peebles, Jeff Bowling from Manchester, David Benjamin from Winchester, Kevin Cross from Seaman, and Tim Sanderson from West Union. In addition to community police officers, other participating law enforcement personnel include troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol and Rangers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Additionally, the ODNR has donated 50 fishing poles and 50 fully stocked tackle boxes to the program.
Children participating in the program are chosen by school Resource Officers who work in both county school districts.
“We rely on the Resource Officers because they know the kids, they’re in the school with them everyday and they’re aware of each child’s circumstances,” said Alexa Breeze, Corrections Officer at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. “We cross reference every child with every organization around Adams County that’s helping children to keep from duplicating and to get as many kids as possible in the program.”
Breeze says the success of the project springs from community effort. “We all work together – law enforcement, local churches, businesses and individuals – to help the kids.”
The money collected is distributed equally among all the children.
“The community has come together and really helped us out a lot this year,” said Walters. “Some people might give 10 dollars and others might give 100 – it all goes into the same pot to help the kids – and it’s all divided up equally between them.”
Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the Shop With a Cop program should contact Alexa Breeze at (937) 474-1744 or stop by the Sheriff’s office with your donation. The deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 21 . Receipts are provided.
“Last year the program was very successful and I think this year it’s going to be even more successful,” said Walters. “We’ve really been out there talking to people and everyone we’ve talked to has been very receptive to helping out. I think we all agree it’s a very good thing for a police officer to have friendly one-on-one time with a kid.”