The kids in the Shop with a Cop program, along with 21 special needs children who went shopping last week, were each given a $200 shopping budget and the opportunity to buy whatever they wanted — some wandered into the electronics and apparel departments, but the toy aisle was definitely the place to be.
For the officers, the annual shopping spree provides a much-needed respite from the ins and outs of law enforcement. It was clear from the activity in the toy department that the program offers more than just entertainment for the kids.
A total of 57 kids were served by the program, with more than $10,000 raised, Lt. James Perry said. The money came from several fundraisers throughout the year, as well as donations. Events used as fundraisers included the "Run from the Cops" 5K, a golf tournament and rodeo sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police.
"We've been really blessed," Perry said. "To give them all $200 and a bike and a book, it's really great."
The program is available to local children who have not been assisted by any other Christmas programs, and especially children who have been victims of crime.
"We actually started a program of trying to give out Christmas toys to kids about 15 years ago,” Perry said. “We’re always open to any other police agency in their area that requests help with a kid or family that they’re familiar with. They may have had the same type dealings through the year that we have. We kind of focus on Carrollton and Carroll County and try to keep it within the county most of the time.”
The day began in the police department's training room, where the participants were given their bikes and books and had the chance to talk to Santa Claus. Then, a fleet of police cars, sirens blaring, traveled down Highway 27 to Walmart where the shopping began. Parents followed the caravan, picking up the kids after they'd checked out their gifts.