(Posted Dec. 15, 2020)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Messenger
Law enforcement agencies around the county have made a tradition of taking area children on shopping trips at Christmas. This year, due to COVID-19, the kids aren’t in on the trips, but gifts are stilling coming their way.
“We were all disappointed we couldn’t do Shop with a Cop this year. We didn’t feel like it was the right time,” said Chris Floyd, West Jefferson police chief. “Instead, we adopted three families recommended by the school district. We got shopping lists so we can do a meal and gifts for each family.”
Making donations to the project were members of the police department and its auxiliaries, Main Street Deli, Fry & Associates, and several other area businesses that chose to remain anonymous.
The London Police Department plans to spread Christmas cheer to the children of 12 area families. Officers will deliver the presents in a socially distanced manner. The families provided the department with wish lists that included not just toys, but also practical items such as clothing.
“Our Shop with a Cop started close to eight or nine years ago. One of the officers saw it as a community outreach being done in other areas. So, we decided to start it here,” said Glenn Nicol, London police chief. “We’ve kept it going, and it grows stronger every year.”
In the past, the department has solicited donations of merchandise and services from area businesses to auction off to fund the Shop with a Cop program. This year, they went a different direction.
“We did not feel it was appropriate to hit up the small businesses this year,” Nicol said. “Instead, we received (monetary) donations from various individuals and businesses, and the officers themselves donated over $1,000.”
The Madison County Sheriff’s Association is set to deliver gifts to 15 children in the Madison-Plains School District on Dec. 19.
“We talked to the kids’ guardians and got to know the kids that way because, of course, due to COVID, we couldn’t take the kids shopping with us,” said Dep. Roberta Roberts. “We asked about their needs and their wants. Their needs–like clothes, hats, and gloves–were our first priority. It was touching that a lot of their wants were things for their siblings.”
Roberts and 11 other members of the department and their families went shopping at the London Walmart on Dec. 10.
“I gave each deputy a picture of the child they were buying for and their age, grade, favorite color, likes and what they collect,” Roberts said.
Tom Coughlin of Coughlin Automotive covered the cost of the gifts.
“He paid for everything. I wasn’t expecting that. I had a little budget in mind, and he doubled it. He really wanted these kids to have stuff,” Roberts said.
Shoe Sensation stepped up to the plate, too, with a big discount. As a result, each child is receiving a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of winter boots plus socks. The Madison County Sheriff Deputies Association donated money for gift wrap, gift bags and name tags.
“Having everything done local made it more personal,” Roberts said.