Shopping for a good cause

Published 2:02 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

SOUTH POINT — Customers were probably wondering what exactly was happening at the South Point Walmart on Monday night with so many police and state patrol cruisers sitting in the parking lot and a bunch of uniformed officers gathered at the garden center entrance.

But rather than anything bad happening, it was the annual Lawrence County Shop With a Cop event.

The program has been around for more than a decade and the goal is to help kids in need have a good Christmas.

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This year, the joint effort between the officers from all Lawrence County law enforcement agencies enabled the officers to shop for 47 kids to help make their Christmas a little brighter.

Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Derrick Malone was one of the organizers of the event.

He said last year, because of the pandemic, they met with the families at the store and then the officers went around and bought the items for the kids off a wish list. He said he was happy to be back to in person shopping with the kids.

“This is better, we enjoy spending time with the kids and taking them around the store and letting them pick out what they want,” Malone said. “It’s a good time for all involved.”

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said they take recommendations for families in need from local schools, as well as cases officers have encountered on the job.

He too was happy to be shopping with the children again.

“It’s good to get back to normal and see the joy on the kid’s faces when they get to go around and pick out some of the toys and clothes they want and need,” he said.

Besides getting the kids Christmas gifts, both Malone and Lawless said the event was a good way for the kids to see and interact with law enforcement in a positive way.

“It builds that bond,” Malone said. “But, ultimately, it is about making the kids happy.”

Lawless said it was good for the kids see law officers as caring human beings since “sometimes, they see us in a bad light when we are coming to their house for different things. This shows that law enforcement is their friend.”

After the shopping for shoes, clothes and, of course, toys, they all went for dinner at the nearby Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant.

This is the first year that the dinner was held there and the restaurant provided 125 meals for the kids and their families.

Lawless said that the money for the event, about $125 per child, comes from donations from businesses and the public.