By Wayne Gates –
About fifty kids are going to have their lives changed by Shop With a Cop next December 19.
This year’s event will start at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. The kids will get to ride in police cars and control the lights and siren as they head to Mt. Orab for breakfast at the Country Inn.
After breakfast, they will travel in a convoy to Hillsboro where they will get to spend $500 in themselves and thier families. After that, it’s lunch at Dakota’s Steakhouse and then a movie at Star Cinema. All business services are donated.
“When I first started the program here five years ago, we helped one child. I never imagined that we would be helping forty to fifty families a year,” said event organizer Officer Mike Dearing.
A lot of people have stepped up and gotten involved in the program. Every law enforcement agency in the county has gotten involved.”
Dearing said that Adams County has also started a program, and that Highland County is participating with Brown County.
Dearing was involved in the program himself as a child. He said it’s a way for the kids to see police officers in a non-threatening light.
“We want to give these kids a better idea of what law enforcement is about. We aren’t just the people that haul other people off to jail,” Dearing said.
He added that it’s an emotional experience when you tell a child that they have $500 dollars to spend and they start buying things like shampoo and toilet paper.
“I don’t know that there is any more of a humbling feeling when you see these kids being more concerned about things we take for granted every day than they are toys for themselves,” Dearing said.
“The selflessness that these kids have is incredible. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve reminded a kid that they haven’t bought anything for themselves. They want to spend all the money buying for their family.”
Dearing added that the officers get a lot out of the program as well.
“A lot of them tell me that this is the greatest day in their career. They love the opportunity to relax, have fun and make a difference,” he said.
And local police officers are not the only ones that are helping the program to grow.
“So many people in the community have gotten involved by helping to wrap presents or donating or helping in other ways,” Dearing said.
The Brown County Peace Officers Association is hosting a quarter raffle fundraiser for the program on Nov. 4 at Rhonemus Hall at the Brown County Fairgrounds. The raffle begins at five p.m.
Dearing said that this year’s event will cost about $25,000 and donations will continue to be accepted as the big day grows closer.
“People can go to any police station and make a donation to the Brown County Peace Officer’s Association or they can bring donations to the Brown County Prosecutor’s Office. Monetary donations or items we can use for the raffle are very appreciated,” Dearing said.