Heroes and Helpers: Bonding with first responders

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Bryan Turner, an auxiliary officer with the West Jefferson Police Department, gets tips on wrapping corners from Jennah Hershey of Hilliard. Turner said the advice was much needed as he normally begs others to wrap presents due to his skill level.

(Posted Dec. 26, 2019)

By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer

More than two dozen children and young adults from the West Jefferson community were chosen to participate in the annual “Heroes and Helpers” program, formerly known as “Shop with a Cop,” on Dec. 14.

For more than an hour, they browsed the aisles and braved the crowds at the Target store on Hilliard-Rome Road on the west side of Columbus. With the help of members of the West Jefferson Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Jefferson Township Fire Department, they looked for the perfect gifts for their families and themselves.

After filling their carts, the participants were whisked away to the West Jefferson Community Center where they were treated to pizza and cookies and help with wrapping presents.

Police officers are often called gifts to the community they serve, and here West Jefferson Police veteran Mallory Malone proves it as she gets wrapped by Zoe Murry, 9, and Alexis Beedy, 13.

Organizer Paula Martin-Hay said the mission of the program is to give deserving children in grades K-12 the opportunity to bond with first responders and celebrate the giving spirit of the holiday.

Sponsors of this year’s “Heroes and Helpers” program included: Coughlin Automotive, Target Corp., Tidd Family Funeral Services, Liberty Freight, Restoration Hardware, Madison County Shrine Club, Ohio Troopers Caring Inc. (Ohio State Highway Patrol), village residents, and the West Jefferson Police Department, West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin and council member Jim King (No-Shave November donations).

Gift-wrapping pro Gloria Case poses with Trenton Rice after the duo completed wrapping presents that Rice picked out at Target hours earlier. Case said the 9-year-old was a great shopper, complimenting him on choosing a majority of the presents for his younger siblings. For himself, Rice chose boxing gloves and a sweet Corvette.

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