Annual ‘Shop With a Cop’ makes season brighter for local children –
Story by Patricia Beech –
Photos by Mark Carpenter –
On Thursday, Dec. 22, more than 60 local children and over 30 law-enforcement officers participated in the annual Shop with a Cop event in Adams County.
According to Deputy Randy Walters, the purpose of Shop with a Cop is two-fold – providing kids a good Christmas while building positive relationships with law enforcement.
“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. This is our chance to show kids that police officers care, said Deputy Walters.
The Shop with a Cop program is funded by donations from local individuals and businesses. This year the program met and exceeded their financial goal. According to organizer Alexa Breeze each child received $175 for shopping.
“The community has really come through for us,” Breeze told the Defender at the Dec. 22 event. “We all work together to make this happen – law enforcement, local churches, businesses, and individuals.”
Shopping sessions were scheduled at noon for children from North Adams and Peebles, and 6 p.m for children from West Union and Manchester. Besides being paraded to Walmart for their shopping sprees, children participating in the event were treated to lunch, a dance, and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Law enforcement from local village police departments, the Sheriff’s office, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources took part in the program.
“It’s great to be here to help these kids have a good time today, and to make sure they have something for Christmas,” said ODNR officerMatt Roberts.
Manchester Resource Officer Josh Hayes said the experience was a rewarding one for both the children and the police officers. “It means a lot to me to be here serving my community, and being here for the kids allows me to give back in a more personal way than just serving my day-to-day duties.”
Employees at Walmart in West Union were well prepared when the children and their escorts arrived at the store. “It’s important that these kids have a good Christmas,” said Sharon Little, Department Manager of Crafts and Fabrics, “They’re having a lot of fun doing this, and it’s heartwarming to see them having such a great time with the police officers.
Winchester Police Chief David Benjamin said he believes the one-on-one time officers spent with the kids was a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
“I absolutely love the meaning of Christmas,” said Benjamin. “A lot of people forget about the true meaning of the season, and about helping others. I love the opportunity to come out and help these kids who might not even have Christmas if it weren’t for this program. It tugs at your heart strings.”