Megan Norris knew she had $100 to spend at the Dawsonville Wal-Mart.
Courtesy of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Shop with a Cop program, the gift card was intended for the 17-year-old to shop for herself this holiday season.
But Christmas is more about giving than receiving, Norris said, as she stood in line to buy presents for everyone in her family.
“Well, I got myself a pair of pajamas, but I’m probably going to give them to my sister,” she said. “That’s what Christmas is about.”
Selfless attitudes like that of Norris is what makes Shop with a Cop so rewarding, said sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten.
Twenty-three local youth ages 6-17 participated in the Dec. 17 shopping event with local law enforcement officers.
“It’s fun to go out and watch the kids,” Wooten said. “Especially the ones that are as thoughtful as can be and spend all their money on their family.
“That always touches you when you give a kid $100 to buy whatever they want and they spend it every bit on someone else.”
The program is in its fourth year. Children are recommended by KARE for Kids, a local nonprofit that provides Christmas to Dawson County children in need, and other agencies in the county.
Wal-Mart, KARE for Kids and the sheriff’s office made the shopping trip possible by donating the gift cards.
Angela Voyles, the mother of four sons ages of 7 to 14, said she didn’t know how she would have been able to give her children Christmas without Shop with a Cop.
“This really means a lot to us, and so much to my boys,” she said.
Nine-year-old Hunter Voyles’ big blue eyes beamed as he held up his gift card.
“I’ve never had $100 to spend before,” he said.
Community policing programs, such as Shop with a Cop are part of Sheriff Billy Carlisle’s efforts to create meaningful youth programs and give back to the community, Wooten said.
“This gives the kids an opportunity to see the police are not bad, even if the only other contact they have with the police has been negative,” Wooten said.
“And our officers have so much fun interacting with the kids and seeing how excited they get.”