(Posted Dec. 17, 2014)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
You’ve heard of “shop ‘til you drop.” How about “Shop with a Cop”?
On Dec. 12, 20 Madison County children spent the afternoon at Walmart in London. Staffers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) served as shopping buddies, accompanying the children around the store. Each child received $100 to buy items for themselves or for loved ones.
Jason Hofmann of the West Jefferson patrol post was among the troopers who volunteered. He helped brothers Hunter Glass, 6, and Evan Glass, 2, of Plumwood pick out a toy airplane, Spiderman gear, train, ball and other fun stuff.
“This is my first year doing this. I’ve always wanted to, and I’m glad my schedule worked this year,” Hofmann said, adding that he knows that Christmas is a special time for children. “I’ve got little kids, too.”
This is the second year Madison County has been part of “Shop with a Cop,” an outreach that benefits less fortunate children in Franklin and Madison counties. Participants are selected based on referrals from each county’s Children’s Services.
Funding comes from Walmart, Meijer and the Ohio Troopers Coalition. This year, eight central Ohio stores donated a total of $20,000, which provided 160 children with $100 to $125 in Christmas spending money. Also, a portion of the store funds, combined with $1,000 from the coalition, paid for gifts for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
West Jefferson resident Tom Davis, a dispatcher at the West Jefferson patrol post, coordinates the program. Since he came on board four years ago, the number of participating stores has grown from three to eight. The London Walmart was a new addition in 2013. He added the Walmart on Stringtown Road in Grove City this year. He said he hopes to branch out to Pickaway County in 2015.
“It’s something that really benefits the community, plus it gets kids to feel comfortable with officers and law enforcement. It lets them know we’re out there to protect and serve,” Davis said.
Since introducing the program to Madison County last year, Davis said he has run into several of the families who participated last December.
“The kids tell me they had a great time, and the parents thank me for the Patrol’s time and commitment,” he said. “One little girl said she loved what she got last year and still plays with it to this day.
“It makes you feel good that you’re helping someone who really needs it.”