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Kids N Cops program again host annual Christmas shopping spree - Independent-Messenger: News

Kids N Cops program again host annual Christmas shopping spree

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Posted: Monday, December 25, 2017 12:00 am

Several law enforcement officers from the Emporia Police Department, Greensville County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police picked up children at home on their cruisers and took them to Wal-Mart for a shopping spree on Dec. 16.

Kids N Cops, formerly known as “Shop with a Cop” was sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 30.

Retired Sgt. Ed Bryant started the program many years ago, then it was adopted by state then national law enforcement agencies. This year the program celebrated its 25th anniversary.

This year, the FOP, through the generous donations of individuals and businesses, was able to help 40 needy children, all of which went shopping with the officers after taking a group photograph together.

The youngsters went with law enforcement officers and volunteers on the shopping spree before enjoying a delicious meal at Shoney’s, courtesy of the restaurant.

“Going around the store and helping the kids with toys, bicycles and such.... it was a great joy to see the smiles on their little faces. This is what Christmas is all about....giving back to our community,” said Lee Seymour, who has raised thousands of dollars for the program even though he has never been a law enforcement officer.

“The kids were pleased with the gifts that they got. I would like to personally thank all of the officers and volunteers who came to this event to make a child happy. My hat goes off to them. This was the best year ever. We would like to thank everyone who donated money or their time.”

The volunteers had a great time. “My heart is overwhelmed with happiness with all the ones that contributed to this worthy cause, without them there would be no event,” he said.

“We look forward to many more years of continued events such as this ahead of us. A special thank you to Shoney’s for their continued support by feeding all of the kids after they go on their shopping spree. They work up an appetite shopping.”

Several members of the community helped law enforcement officers take the youngsters shopping because there were so many this year. Samantha Dickens was one of the volunteers. The student participated in the event for the fifth time. “I like being able to give back and help other children have a great Christmas,” she said.

You might think that the kids would race toward the toy section even though they are required to purchase clothing. But most stop for clothes first.

The little boy who went shopping with Deputy Benji Ligon and volunteer Carleigh Jarratt picked out a stunning four-piece suit, which included white shirt, black vest and pants and a purple necktie. “I’m going to look good for church,” the youngster said.

Deputy Kristie Upton helped a young man pick out the perfect bicycle for Christmas. He was all smiles.

Other volunteers such as Sheriff Tim Jarratt, Officer Glen Garnes, Deputy Katina Mason, Officer Keith Prince, Trooper William Simon, Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw, Lt. Jerry Wright, and student volunteers Joshua Sutton, Samantha Dickens, McKenzey Dickens, Blair Dickens and many, many other volunteers seemed to enjoy the shopping trip as much as the 40 kids did. Everywhere you looked people were smiling and laughing.

You couldn’t tell who was more excited—the kids—or the law enforcement officers and other volunteers.

Wal-Mart was full of children looking for just the right present for family members and themselves, aided by law enforcement officers and other members of the community.

The sight warmed the heart of retired Sgt. Ed Bryant, who started the program, which was adopted by the state, then nationally.

“I think it’s great,” said Bryant as he looked around at all the smiling faces, both the children and the law enforcement officers helping as well as the large number of community volunteers.

It was the first time some of the chaperones have participated. They seemed to marvel at how much fun that not only the kids had but also themselves.

“I never thought Shop with a Cop would ever be this big...not in my wildest dreams. It is fort of overwhelming,” Bryant said, noting that the program started after he began handing out candy canes then toys in low income neighborhoods.

The state police thought the program was a good idea and before long law enforcement agencies all over the country adopted the program, too.

“I hope the program will continue in the future. It’s a very worthwhile program. Any time you can make a child smile your efforts are worth it,” said Bryant.

He said he started the program without any idea that one day he would be taking 40 children shopping. When the shopping spree at Wal- Mart began it was with 10 children. The program has really grown since then. There are more children in need and more donations have been collected thanks to local generosity and the efforts of Lee Seymour, who is considered the ambassador for the program and others, including students who raised money for the program.

Bryant said he was surprised that so many people are willing to give up their time close to Christmas to participate in making sure local youth have a great Christmas. “This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus would be happy with this,” he said.

Emporia Detective Jerry Wright has been volunteering for the shopping trip for a number of years. Wright and Lloyd Carter head up the program for the Fraternal Order of Police.

“I know that it is one time every year that as law enforcement officers we can make a difference in the kids’ lives on our patrol beat. I love seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces. It’s very heart-warming,” he said.

The youngsters smiled when telling their chaperone they had finally decided on that perfect gift but the chaperone had to check the price of what the child wanted against how much money the child had left to spend. Many chaperones and law enforcement officers were overheard saying they would pay the difference if the child chose gifts that came to a little more than the allotted $100.

Seymour seemed to have more fun than all the children put together. Since he joined the program it has expanded immensely.

“I would like to thank everyone who generously responded to my request for donations. Your generosity made a lot of kids happy this year. You should be proud of yourself for helping make their Christmas a lot merrier,” Seymour said.

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