By Wayne Gates –
One of the biggest days of the year in local law enforcement was celebrated on Dec. 19 as 55 local kids got to “Shop With A Cop.”
The program pairs a law enforcement officer and a chaperone with each child for a day of food, shopping, games and wrapping presents.
The day began at the Country Inn in Mt. Orab, where kids were treated to a buffet breakfast.
“We look forward to this day all year round. It is so emotional to us just to be a part of it. We love taking care of their breakfast. It’s just a small reward we can do for the community,” said Country Inn General Manager Amanda Hensley.
The event organizer is Officer Mike Dearing, who was standing in the middle of the restaurant taking it all in.
“It’s a very touching thing to see. To grow from one kid five years ago to taking up every seat in a restaurant is pretty amazing,” Dearing said.
He said that the kids are impacted in a positive way as well.
“They get to see us as a human being. They get to see us as not just a uniform and a badge, but true people. Young people get to see that we care, we have fun and we enjoy our lives just like everyone else does.”
Mt. Orab Police Chief Bryan Mount has participated in the event since the beginning five years ago.
“It’s incredible. There are a lot of children here that would not have had the opportunity to have the kind of Christmas that we are going to be able to give them,” Mount said.
“When you see them put that gift they really want into the cart and you see their face, it’s worth every bit of effort that goes into this.”
After leaving the Country Inn, the group went to Wal-Mart in Hillsboro, where each child got at least $500 to spend on gifts for themselves and their family.
The day continued with lunch at Dakota’s Roadhouse, games and a movie at Star Cinemas and then a return to Brown County to wrap presents and eat pizza from LaRosa’s of Mt. Orab for dinner. As the children travel from place to place, they sat in the front seat of the police car with the lights and siren running.
On Christmas Eve, the officer that accompanied the child will deliver the wrapped presents and a holiday meal to the child’s family.
Over $30,000 was raised from the community in donations to pay for the event. The children were selected by their local schools to participate.
The group is already looking toward next year’s event. Dearing released the following information to the media and general public.
“Fundraising for the 2018 Shop with a Cop Day program has already begun. Interested individuals and businesses are asked to contact Jessica Roush of the Brown County Prosecutor’s Office regarding making a future donation. Jessica can be reached at (937) 378-4151.
The funding for the annual Shop with a Cop program is provided by the generous donations of hundreds of individuals and dozens of businesses throughout the year. Additionally, dozens of law enforcement officers donate their time and energy helping assist the fundraising process throughout the entire year. In particular, the Brown County Peace Officer’s Association is extremely grateful for its corporate sponsors of LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria of Mt. Orab, Country Inn Restaurant of Mt. Orab, Dakota’s Roundhouse Restaurant of Hillsboro, Star Cinema of Hillsboro, and Wal-Mart of Hillsboro.”
The following police agencies participated in this year’s Shop with a Cop Day program:
Aberdeen Police Department
Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force
Brown County Prosecutor’s Office
Brown County Sheriff’s Office
Georgetown Police Department
Hamersville Police Department
Higginsport Police Department
Highland County Sheriff’s Office (Highland County)
Hillsboro Police Department (Highland County)
Lake Waynoka Police Department
Mt. Orab Police Department
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
Ohio State Highway Patrol
Ohio Veterans Home Police Department
Ripley Police Department
Russellville Police Department
Sardinia Police Department