Since 2016, the Shop with a Cop program has been bringing the community together to help those who may need a little support through the holiday season and to build relationships with local law enforcement.
This year, the Clarke County Sheriff’s office, along with the Osceola Police Department, has doubled their efforts to help through the season and make the holidays brighter – even with COVID-19 issues and necessary social distancing protocol.
“Many families in our community are struggling,” says Chief Deputy Lucas Darby of the Clarke County Sheriff’s department. “And we want to make sure the holidays are full of cheer and show our support to those who need it most.”
As in previous years, members of local law enforcement will be accepting nominations and donations to help children and families who may need a little support bringing the basics to their holiday celebrations. Through nominations from the schools and others in the community, children kindergarten through sixth grade are selected to participate. Each officer will be assigned two children that they will escort around the city in their squad cars to local businesses where the officer helps them while they shop. Each child is allotted about $150 to spend and gets to pick out the perfect gift for each family member before selecting something for themselves.
Check out photos from past Shop with a Cop events by clicking through the slideshow below:
A change to years past will be made to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions, and to ensure the safety of the children and their families. Instead of a pizza and present wrapping party after the shopping spree, the children will be given the makings for holiday meals and food items to bring home to their families.
“Local businesses like Osceola Foods, Casey’s, and Walmart have always stepped up for the program,” said Chief Deputy Darby. “This year it will just be a little different and focused on the health and safety of the entire community.”
In 2019, the program helped over 40 kids and their families make the holidays brighter. A grant through Clarke County Development Corporation will help the program expand the number of children they can serve, but help from the community is still needed.
Nominations are being accepted through November 30 to identify children and families who could most benefit from the program. Once all applications are received, officers will select the recipients based on need and availability of funds.
“Every year the Shop with a Cop program reminds us of how the community and local law enforcement depend on each other,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the CCDC. “The CCDC is proud to be a part of this program and support our officers as well as the families they serve.”
Nomination forms are available through guidance counselors at Clarke and Murray schools and can also be picked up at the Sheriff’s office.
“Shop with a Cop is an opportunity for us to not only help families in need, but to try to change the narrative surrounding law enforcement,” said Chief Deputy Darby. “By spending time with these kids they get to know us and get to see how we’re all an important part of this community.”