A barrage of local law enforcement officers paired with children filled the aisles of the Hillsboro Walmart with Christmas cheer Tuesday as part of this year’s Shop with a Cop program for Highland and Brown counties.
Seventeen Highland County children and 35 from Brown County were treated to a fun-filled day of food, Christmas shopping and movies.
The complete group was comprised of about 150 participants including children, law enforcement officers, and family members of the officers who volunteered.
The children traveled throughout the day in a cavalcade of nearly 100 lighted law enforcement cruisers.
“I feel happy, and I’ve just been having fun,” said Elijah Adams, 10, a fourth grader at Lynchburg-Clay Elementary. “The sirens are my favorite, and I’ve counted 70 cars so far.”
Adams was paired for the day with his law enforcement mentors Brandon Stratton, a chief deputy with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and Shania Thompson, a special deputy with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. Stratton said his favorite part of the day is the time spent with the kids.
“Getting all the kids together and all the police officers and deputies and state troopers is just a really nice thing and to get to do this is really great,” said Stratton.
Before shopping at Walmart, the Highland County group enjoyed breakfast at the Old Y Restaurant south of Hillsboro.
“That was donated to us by the restaurant and Barnett Trucking of Mowrystown,” said Highland County Sheriff’s Deputy Damon Haught, who coordinates the Shop with a Cop event in Highland County and serves as president of the Highland County Peace Officers Association. “We really appreciate them because they’ve done this several times for us, and after we ate we loaded up and came to town with the Brown County group.”
Following the shopping trip, the children were treated to lunch at Alley 21 and a movie of their choice at Star Cinemas in Hillsboro. The special day ended with present wrapping at Hillsboro’s VFW Post 9094 before the children were brought home by their respective escorts. The officers will deliver the gifts to the families as Christmas nears.
Although children still received gifts from the program last year, much of the event was cancelled because of COVID-19. “Last year we weren’t able to take the children out,” said Haught. “We did shop for them, but it just wasn’t the same as the whole day, which is exciting for us. We’re glad to be back to be able to bring the kids into the store and shop and have a fun day with them.”
Highland County law enforcement has participated in the program that began in Brown County nearly 12 years ago since 2015.
The event includes the Greenfield, Leesburg and Lynchburg police departments as well as other county law enforcement agencies. The Ohio State Patrol and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) also participate.
Children between 9 and 12 are chosen to be part of Shop with a Cop by the local school districts.
“We’re doing everything that we planned to do, and we couldn’t ask for a better day weatherwise to do it,” said Haught. “I’d like to thank the community for all the support we’ve received. We received support from the community year-round, and we really do appreciate it because it brings a lot of smiles to these kids’ faces and that’s what it’s all about.”
Shop with a Cop is supported by fundraisers and donations throughout the year. Donations are tax deductible since they go to a nonprofit organization, and they can be taken to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office or the Hillsboro Police Department.
Donations can also be mailed to the Highland County Peace Officers Association, P.O. Box 1845, Hillsboro, Ohio 45113.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.