BREAKING: Georgia Supreme Court upholds Dawson County man’s conviction for Hannah Bender’s 2019 murder
The district attorney recognized the "horrific” nature of Bender’s death, thanking those involved in the judicial process and stating that “justice was well served” in the case.
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Cops grant holiday wishes
Charity helps kids see bright Christmas
2. Shop w a Cop pic1
Merik Wilkins and School Resource Officer Stan Harrison calculate how much more they can buy with the $100 gift cards each of the boys received during last weeks Shop with a Cop event. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Deputies made Christmas merry and bright for dozens of local children last week during the Dawson County Sheriff's annual Shop with a Cop event at Walmart.

"I want everything," said Kyrie Padgett, who spent Thursday afternoon shopping with Investigator Jennifer Wright and Aleshia Rucker, a member of Sheriff Billy Carlisle's civilian staff.

With gift card in hand, Kyrie and her friend Bella Yost bought costumes to dress up like Elsa and Anna from the popular Disney movie Frozen. The girls spent the rest of their $100 gift cards on toys.

Students are nominated by teachers and counselors at local schools.

As a resource officer at Robinson Elementary, who has also served as mentor for many years, School Resource Officer Stan Harrison knows there are children in the community that are not getting as much for Christmas this year as others.

"It just means everything to get to see these kids get their enjoyment out of it. Their eyes light up and they get all happy. They're so excited," he said. "I wouldn't miss it."

Now in its ninth year, Shop with a Cop has grown from 10 students in 2006 to more than 80 this holiday season, a feat that would not have been possible without the generosity of the community, according to organizer Capt. Tony Wooten.
In addition to a hefty grant from the retail giant, the sheriff's office also received donations from area schools, community members and group of golfers at Chestatee Golf Club.

"We've got so many people to thank. Tonight and last night we had teachers from Kilough and Riverview Elementary School volunteering their time to come out and help us with the kids," Wooten said. "Then, there's the school system...and Jim Rich, our bus driver. He hauled the kids over here for us both nights."

Manager Tom Horton said Walmart is proud to be a partner for such a worthwhile program.

"It's a great thing. It's nice to watch a community come together," he said. "With us and the sheriff's office doing shop with a cop, we think it's a good relationship.

"Doing things together, I think, is what builds a strong community."