The Transylvania Times -

By Jeremiah Reed
Staff Writer 

Shopping With A ‘Cop’ Brings Many Smiles – Brevard NC

 

Local law enforcement officers, including Andy Boyko (above), were more than eager to help children with their $100 Shop with a Cop Christmas spree. (Courtesy photos by Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office)

For some children in Transylvania County, Christmas came a few weeks early this year thanks to a joint effort between local law enforcement and the generous donations of the community.

The Brevard Police Department (BPD) and the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office held their third annual Shop with a Cop program last Saturday.

The program gives children a $100 shopping spree at Kmart at a time that can be hard on families with a tight budget.

“This is our way to try and help make Christmas a little brighter for some folks who may not have quite as good a Christmas otherwise,” said Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney.

The money for the event is raised through fundraising efforts from the BPD and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as community donations.

The morning started off bright and early with a pancake breakfast at the Brevard Wesleyan Church. After sharing the Christmas story and a visit from Santa, officers and volunteers escorted the students to Kmart where the real fun began.

Mahoney said it was something special to watch the children light up when they got to the store and got started on their shopping list. Oftentimes children try to select gifts for their loved ones before anything else.

“It’s a great experience to get to spend time with those young folks and watch the excitement on their face,” he said. “Usually, the first place they go is to try to find something for their mother, or father or a brother or sister. So it’s pretty awesome to see.”

Student resource officers (SRO) from all seven of Transylvania County’s public schools select the children chosen to participate.

Andrew Shook, SRO at Pisgah Forest Elementary, said he was very careful in selecting the kids who he chose for the event.

“I’ve picked kids that I knew were excellent kids that I felt deserved it,” he said. “We are giving them a gift and we are giving back to the community, but we’re picking good kids that we want, that we feel like really deserve it.”

While the participants consist of a wide age range, most are in elementary school and Shook said most of the ones he chose were in kindergarten.

Greg Stroup, SRO at Rosman High School and event organizer, said this year’s event featured 120 students, which exceeded the target goal of 100. He offered thanks to all the volunteers who helped chaperone the students, as well as to the community at large for their donations to the program.

“I really want to thank all the volunteers who came out,” he said. “There is absolutely no way this could happen without the generosity of this community.

“The donations just continue to pour in.”

Stroup said he would love to see donations continue to increase so next year the program could serve even more students. He added that watching how the children spent their money gave a lot of insight to just how hard things were for some families.

“You realize how bad the need is when you see a second grade girl who only used her money to buy food because they didn’t have a lot at home. It puts things in perspective for you how bad things are for some folks out there,” he said.

While the fundraising efforts may be hard and the coordination of the event takes a lot of hours and planning, Stroup said it was all worth it to see the joy that the day brought to everybody involved.

Santa Claus also made a welcome visit during the Shop with a Cop event.

“It puts a lot of smiles on people’s faces,” he said. “Not just the kids’ faces but the officers and other volunteers, as well.”

“This program is an excellent opportunity for us to give back to the community, and I feel lucky to be a part of it,” Shook said. “It’s taken a lot of work, but it’s worth it, 100 percent.”

For Mahoney the Shop with a Cop program was a great way to bond with the children and epitomized the true spirit of the holiday season.

“I’ve been fortunate to be a chaperone each of the three years that we’ve done this program, and all of us see the same thing,” he said. “The kids really don’t take this for granted. They’re extremely grateful for the opportunity, but they’re also extremely giving, so, I think that helps reminds us all what Christmas is all about.”

 
 

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