In an event spanning two counties, Shop with a Cop treated a total of 67 children to a full day of activities on Tuesday.
Highland County Sheriff’s Deputy Damon Haught, who coordinates the Shop with a Cop event in Highland County, told The Times-Gazette that 17 children from Highland County and 50 children from Brown County were paired with mentors from 21 law enforcement agencies from Highland and Brown counties for this year’s Shop with a Cop event.
Haught said that this is the third year Highland County law enforcement has participated in the event that began in Brown County nearly 10 years ago.
”The first year, we had five. Last year, we had 11. We keep getting more kids, and we’re able to do more good,” Haught said. “Nobody gets paid to do it. They volunteer their own time, and the sheriff’s been good about letting us use the vehicles and use the office to coordinate things.”
The day started with breakfast at the Old Y Restaurant south of Hillsboro. From there, Haught said the children and their mentors paraded into town so the children could go shopping at Walmart. According to Haught, each child received $500 to purchase gifts for themselves and their families.
“Today, $500 doesn’t go very far, but the thing that tears me up is we had kids who didn’t care about getting themselves something,” Haught said. “One little girl told us, ‘I don’t care if I get anything. I just want to be able to get my mom a laptop.’ We usually set a limit — no big ticket items. We’ve had kids ask for iPhones and other stuff we just can’t do, but we kind of got together on this one. The little girl had a couple siblings, and we made sure they had stuff. She was refusing to buy herself something, so we talked her into buying herself something, and then we let her go ahead and get a laptop for her mom. She was really happy about that.”
After each child completed their Christmas shopping, Haught said the Highland County kids and their mentors went to Big Ernie’s Pizza for lunch, while Brown County’s kids and their mentors went to 24 Deli, both in Hillsboro, to make things easier on the restaurants. After lunch, the children went to Star Cinemas to watch a movie before going to the Hillsboro Church of Christ to complete the day by wrapping the gifts they’d purchased earlier in the day.
According to Haught, each public Highland County school district nominates children between the ages of 9 and 12 for the program. Local officers then reach out to those children’s families.
”Everybody’s always on board with it. We haven’t had anybody tell us no,” Haught said. “It may not necessarily be poor kids. It could be a kid who needs some positive influence in their life. It’s a positive experience all the way around. They get to do the shopping, and they also bond throughout the day. It’s something that these kids will never forget. We had one kid who went with us last year, and I ran into him at one of the stores during the summer, and he stopped dead in his tracks and came up and hugged me. They recognize us, and it’s always a good thing.”
To stay up-to-date with Highland County Shop with a Cop fundraisers, like or follow the “Shop with a Cop Highland County” Facebook page. Haught said they accept donations year-round, and they’re already looking forward to next year’s event.
Highland County Shop with a Cop is a non-profit, and any donations made are tax deductible.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.