Pickens Sheriff Office/ Photo
The Pickens Sheriff Office’s Shop-With-A-Cop provided more than 80 kids with a trip to Walmart and gives a lesson in being grateful for what you have.
The sheriff’s office Shop-With-a-Cop program is a perfect example of both giving and receiving and the power of Christmas to lift the spirts of others while learning to not take what you have for granted.
Last week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Pickens deputies took kids shopping at Walmart, each given a $175 budget. A few kids had parents accompanying them, especially if a disability required special measures.
The funds for the shopping trip came from Pickens Sheriff Foundation’s JeepFest ($10,000), Atlantic Coast Conservancy ($5,000), Bub-Ba-Que ($500) and the employees of Amicalola EMC ($200) plus some private donations.
In all, 83 kids went shopping on those three nights, but a couple more are expected to get a trip down the aisles.
The recipients were referred from school counselors, DFCS caseworkers and some word of mouth. There were also kids from families deputies had met during calls the past year and recognized their needs.
Sheriff Craig commended DFCS for doing a good job of helping families at Christmas. He said they checked with all inmates who have families to see if their children would be covered on Christmas morning and, except for one, all were in good shape, through the DFCS or other programs. The one that wasn’t covered saw their kids come to Walmart to shop with the cops.
Craig said there were numerous times during the nights that deputies choked-up over the needs they were addressing.
Among some of the stories:
•One mother said she had never in her life been able to shop like that for her special needs teenage child. “Some people spend $100 on a meal and this mother had never had that much to go shopping at Christmas,” the sheriff said.
•Several kids bought presents for others with their budgeted allowance and some bought food for their families instead of stuff for themselves.
•One of the longtime deputies paid for a fairly expensive remote-controlled car out of his pocket for a child who chose to stock up on staples and didn’t have enough left for much for himself.
•One child was insistent that he buy a necklace for his mother with most of the money, so a sheriff’s officer bought the necklace for the child to give and let the kid get toys for himself.
•Most of the kids picked traditional toys - a lot of bicycles, Barbie Dolls, basketballs and footballs. Drone type toys were also popular.
•The sheriff said he saw one child with several Merle Haggard cds in his cart and asked if someone had put him up to buying those. “He said, ‘No sir this is good music.’”
Craig said this event really makes an impact on his officers to be able to help kids who might not have gotten anything for Christmas and to present a good image of law enforcement agents. “Our deputies really got in to being a part of it,” Craig said.