Dozens of law enforcement cruisers rolled through Hillsboro on Tuesday for “Shop with a Cop,” an event that pairs peace officers with underprivileged children from around the region for a holiday shopping spree and an afternoon of fun activities.
The annual event, which began in Brown County, has expanded in the past several years to include police officers and sheriff’s deputies from around Highland County.
The group’s first stop was the Hillsboro Walmart, where children were given $500 apiece to buy Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.
The store was packed Tuesday morning with law enforcement officers, police canines and children — all of whom were on the lookout for the perfect gift.
Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, whose department became involved in the event this year, said he heard reports of many children buying gifts for family members and friends before picking out gifts for themselves.
“A lot of them weren’t even trying to buy things for themselves,” he said. “It’s a great thing, good to see the kids enjoying themselves.”
After lunch at Dakota’s Roadhouse across the street, the group headed down to Star Cinemas, where officers and kids watched a first-run movie and ate popcorn and snacks provided by the theater.
Law enforcement entities split up from there, and cops and kids from Highland County headed over to the North East Street firehouse to wrap gifts and eat pizza.
New Hillsboro Police Chief Darrin Goudy said it was an unforgettable experience for many.
“I think it’s a phenomenal program,” he said, “something I was definitely really glad to be a part of. Just the massive outreach from multiple communities spanning two counties is a sight to behold… Those kids are having an experience they’ll probably never forget.”
Funding for the event was provided by police fundraisers and local sponsors, and businesses donated food and services.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.