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Shop with a Cop

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OFFICERS PLAY SANTA

By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Even an ice storm couldn’t keep police officers and 19 children away from Wal-Mart in Dry Ridge early on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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They came, they cruised up and down the aisles and they filled their carts with toys and clothes as part of the Shop With A Cop annual program that pairs police and corrections officers with children selected from local schools.

Money for the annual event comes from a golf scramble and donations. A few businesses either raise or donate money to help pay for a child to participate.

For Steven Skinner, a captain at the Grant County Detention Center, it’s a chance to make children have a good time.

“I love to see the kids smile, especially those big smiles when they get to pick out their own stuff,” Skinner said.

For Wanda Bedard, a recent graduate of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department Citizens Police Academy, it was a first time experience, but one that left a lasting impression.

“I think this is just a good and needed program,” Bedard said. “It’s been interesting and the smiles. I wish we could get everything they wanted, but are limited to the funds.”
Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills said between $200 and $250 was spent on each child.
Wal-Mart makes a donation to the program and Edwardo’s Pizza provides a free lunch.
Half the money is usually spent on clothes, with the remainder being spent on games and toys.

“It’s hard because there’s a lot to choose from,” said Andrew, age 7, as he picked up and then rejected several action figures before selecting one.
Brennan Dills, a member of the Grant County Sheriff’s Explorer Post, has participated for several years.

“It’s for a good cause and it makes my Christmas, just getting to see them shop,” Brennan said.

Damarco, a 10-year-old boy, wasn’t able to find the number one item on his list but he did get to take home a remote control car.

But he didn’t just choose something for himself, he also picked out some jewelry for his mom.

“I wanted to get her something because I love her,” he said.
School personnel chose which children participate. Police officers are given the name of the child they will be partnered with. The officers pick up the child in their cruisers and take them out for a morning of shopping.

The icy conditions were a concern, but police used four-wheel drive vehicles to get the children out for the shopping trip.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of the community,” Dills said. “People and businesses are what make this happen year after year.”