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Shop With A Deputy helps local children


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  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.

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  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 as well.

  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.”



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