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Officers help spread cheer
Program aids those in need at Christmas
3 Shop with a Cop pic1
Maj. Brandy Branson and Adam Wells, 9, check to see if a robot needs additional batteries during the Dawson County Sheriffs Shop with a Cop event. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Mike Owens believes he met the spirit of Christmas at Walmart.

"Her name is Amy and she is the spirit of Christmas personified," said Owens, chaplain with the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.

Owens and nearly 20 other officers spent part of Thursday afternoon volunteering with the agency's annual Shop with a Cop event.

"This is the fourth year I've been privileged to do this with the sheriff's office," Owens said. "This has been very special, because this is the first child that has refused to shop for herself until she had every member of her family something, even extended members."

Amy Wells, 15, didn't hesitate shopping for others.

"It was my plan from the start," she said.

In addition to her younger brothers and parents, she also bought a gift for her "pop pop" and a family friend.

"I barely ever get to get anything for them," she said. "This was an opportunity for me to shop and get them something for Christmas.

"It felt good to be able to come and shop for my family."

In the end, Wells chose one book for herself.

"That tells you about her heart, the heart of our young people," Owens said. "Everyone wants to give young people a hard time, but a lot of them have a really good heart."

In its fourth year, the goal of Shop with a Cop is to build trust between youth and law enforcement.

Fifty local children ages 5 to 17 were selected by officers who work in the school system and can see firsthand which children have the greatest needs.

Each child received a $100 gift card to spend from a Walmart grant, private donations and funds collected during a recent motorcycle run.

Maj. Greg Rowan looks forward to the event each year.

"This is just an opportunity for us to give back to the community in a good way," he said. "They have certain needs and this is a way to meet those needs, whether it's for themselves or for their families.

"It makes their Christmas brighter, and that's what important to me."

County Commissioner Jimmy Hamby came out to see the kids shopping. It was his first Shop with a Cop experience, but likely won't be his last.

"I wanted to come out and see the kids and see how much fun they're having, how they're enjoying Christmas. It's fun," he said.

After the shopping trip, the children and officers enjoyed a pizza party at Dawson County Middle School.