A few of Santa’s elves wore Dawson County Sheriff’s uniforms Thursday for the agency’s annual Shop with a Cop event.
“This is something I look forward to all year,” said Lt. Col. Greg Rowan. “I go out of my way to cancel anything I have going on to be here.”
Rowan was among dozens of officers pushing shopping carts filled with toys, clothes and gifts as the program treated 47 local children to shopping sprees at Wal-Mart.
“We don’t know what their lives are like at home, but at least for this moment they’re happy and excited, and the smile on their faces is worth it all,” Rowan said.
Each child received a $100 gift card. The sheriff’s office had raised the funding earlier this month through an eating contest.
Cody Grant, 12, knew exactly what he planned to buy with his gift card.
“I got a drill and some screws,” he said. “I’m going to help my grandpa fix my grandma’s porch.”
Deputy Laura Bishop said the kids’ kindness was “heartwarming.”
Bishop shopped with 5-year-old Lacey Bunt, a Kilough Elementary kindergartner, who picked out a few gifts for herself, but focused more on presents she planned to wrap for her family.
“My sisters are going to love these,” she said.
Like Bishop, who tossed in a few dollars of her own at checkout, Maj. John Cagle said he hoped the shopping experience was as rewarding for 12-year-old Sequoia Metcalf as it was for him.
“It’s something I’ll look forward to doing again next year,” he said.
Sheriff Billy Carlisle called the event the agency’s way of giving back.
“There’s a real need in this county,” he said.
Carlisle praised organizations like KARE for Kids, which provide Christmas for hundreds of needy families each year, but cautioned, “they are just one organization.”
He encouraged others to continue stepping up to the plate to remember those in need.
“There will probably still be some kids left out this year,” Carlisle said. “If we can all keep working together, we can get there and hopefully one day we’ll be able to help them all.”