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Shop with a Trooper

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

The pint-sized boy in a red shirt with blond hair had his eye out for bargains.

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“No, that’s too much,” he said, checking a price tag.

“No, I can’t spend that,” he said, repeatedly as he cruised up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart on Dec. 11 during the annual Shop With a Trooper program that helps families in need.

Rendell, a young man of 8-years-old, was budget conscious and serious as he led Kelly Grisik, wife of Trooper Mark Grisik, on his quest.

He was one of 40 children from 10 counties in the Kentucky State Police Post 6 coverage area who were selected to participate in the Shop With A Trooper program.

Rendell’s first priority was getting himself a new dress shirt and tie.

“I wanted a nice, good outfit,” he said simply.

When it came to picking out toys, the decisions were harder for Rendell.

Finally, he decided just what he wanted – a bicycle for his cousin, whom he lives with.

“That’s what I really want,” Rendell said. “I don’t know how much they cost, but that’s what I want.”

“Are you sure we can’t get some toys for you?” asked Kelly Grisik.

After some coaxing, pleading and an assurance that Rendell’s cousin would get some toys, he reluctantly chose a couple of toys.

Other children knew just what they wanted.

Abigail, a high-energy girl with big eyes, was in the market for a purse.

After considering and rejecting several, she opted for a large bright purple cloth purse with sequins.

“It’s big and pretty and that’s important,” she told Trooper Joshua Whitton, who was helping her shop.

Others seemed shocked at all the goodies, they would be taking home with them.

Leslie peered into the cart filled with toys and clothes.

“Is this all for me?” he asked Trooper J. Ritter.

“Yes, it’s all yours,” Ritter said.

Behind the scenes, troopers, support staff and administrators from the KSP, worked to get donations from Grant and surrounding communities. More than 25 troopers picked up children, who were referred to the program through their school’s Family Resource Center or by a trooper, from their homes early on Saturday morning and transported them to the Dry Ridge fire house where they ate breakfast and visited with Santa. It was on to Wal-Mart for shopping followed by lunch at Edwardo’s in Williamstown.

For Molly Handy, a dispatcher at Post 6, this was her first year to assist in organizing the event.

“I didn’t realize there was that much to it,” she said.

This year more than 126 donations from businesses, individuals and organizations were received.

“We got anywhere from $20 and up,” said Sgt. Jeremy Murrell.

Due to the response for donations, Murrell said additional families would be helped either by a few more shopping trips or by food baskets.

Murrell said there were more requests for assistance this year.

“We’re seeing a greater need than in the past because of the economy,” Murrell said. “We were real fortunate to raise the money we did and wouldn’t have been able to without people and businesses being so generous.”

Handy agreed.

“So many businesses went over and above,” she said. “Just getting to see the reaction on their faces that they are able to get almost anything they want, that’s what makes this special.”