By Monroe Roark
A group of Henry County law
enforcement officers continued an annual tradition last weekend by
making a brighter holiday for some needy young people.
Law enforcement officers with the Shop With A Deputy program
stand behind the bikes they donated to children in 2012.
The latest installment of
the “Shop With A Deputy” program took place Saturday morning,
with 61 children spread out among the county’s four Walmart
stores searching for desired Christmas items. Each child was
accompanied by a deputy from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.
The children under 10 were
not allowed to purchase bicycles, according to Jimmie Spence of the
HCSO community relations division. That is because each of them
received a free bike in addition to the other gifts. Other children
received mp3 players, and every family got a deli dinner.
The day’s activities
concluded with a lunch at Heritage Park enjoyed by all of the
families, sponsors and HCSO personnel who took part.
Spence estimated that just
over $13,000 would be spent this year on the project. Some of that
money is provided through grants from all four Walmart stores in the
county, and Kroger assists in providing the deli dinners. Donations
also come in from individuals in all amounts.
Another unique project
provides a sizeable portion of the funds. For several years the HCSO
has undertaken a fruit sale just before the holidays, and the
response has been good since its inception.
Deputies returned Wednesday
from Florida with nearly 10 tons of fruit, which was bagged here and
distributed Thursday. About 13,000 pounds of fruit was presold,
Spence said, but deputies brought back extra in hopes of selling it
The young people who
participated in “Shop With A Deputy” were chosen from a list of
nominees submitted by counselors in the county’s public schools.
HCSD officials then conducted their own assessments to narrow the
field further and select the best candidates for the program.
The deputies donate their time,
from the fruit sale to the shopping excursion, and they benefit from
the experience along with the children, Spence noted.
“Maybe this will have an impact on them,” he
said of the young people, “and help them decide to keep doing the
right thing and making the right choices as they grow up.”