“The children we assist usually come through Children Services and schools,” said Todd Miller, chief deputy. “Principals and teachers bring some to our attention.”
As the children waited near the service desk at Wal-Mart in New Boston, anticipation was on their faces, and lips.
“I want an Easy Bake Oven,” Taylor said, as she held tightly to a shopping cart. Kayleigh had her eye on a game she had seen shortly after entering the store holding onto the hand of a deputy, and Jalen couldn't make up his mind. “Maybe a bike, but if I see something better, I might get that.”
Darren Fike, president of the lodge, said planning for the “Shop With a Cop” event is a long process.
“We started on this in January, and at our monthly meetings we start discussing fundraisers, to raise money to do this,” he said. “This is very important to our lodge, it's the best thing we do.”
Fike said it was important for another reason, too.
“This is also a way people see the other side of law enforcement officers,” he said.
There was no shortage of deputies on hand, and they were joined by corrections officers and special deputies, as each officer took an individual child through the store to choose presents.
Detective Jodi Conkel checked out a young girl who seemed to have some good shopping skills.
“At times she would say, ‘If I get this one, it costs a little less, so I can buy more things,' that's pretty smart,” Conkel said. “When we got here, she told me she needed a new outfit, and a purse, so we got those, and a couple of movies she wanted, too.”
The children and the deputies arrived in shifts, and Sheriff Marty Donini watched as each group arrived and headed down the aisles.
“This is great. We always have plenty of participation from our department,” Donini said.
Fike said the emotional part of the event was one of the reasons so many people participate.
“It's awesome knowing you are helping out local kids,” Fike said. “Words can't explain how you feel helping these people.”
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.