Ninety kids got to go on a Christmas shopping spree at Wal-Mart, with the help of some cops. It’s the biggest group of kids they’ve taken shopping in nine years. Officers from the Christian County Sheriff’s Department, Ozark Police, and Missouri Highway Patrol spent their Sunday afternoon helping kids through the Cops for Kids program.
Fifteen year-old Shelby has quite a Christmas list, but it’s not for her. “We’re split equally, 5 girls, 5 boys,” says Shelby Abernatha. She’s using her 100 dollars to shop for her nine brothers and sisters.
“Carson’s into like putting stuff together. Ben’s more like football, sports,” Shelby says. It’s her first time to shop with a cop, and she says Christian County Deputy Brett Leslie turned out to be pretty handy. “He helped me. I asked him a couple questions about the younger boys,” Shelby says.
“You can get a bunch of hot wheels for a buck,” says Leslie.
“Oh, I’m gonna get him the ice cream one!” Shelby says.
Kids who shop with a cop not only get 100 dollars to spend however they want for Christmas, but officers hope it will also give them a good experience to remember. “A lot of the children that we deal with maybe had a parent removed from a home or have seen us, maybe in a negative light, and this is a way we try to let them know we’re here, we’re your friends,” says Officer Becky Turpin with the Ozark Police Department.
Wal-Mart and community members donated 9,000 dollars to make the 100 dollar shopping sprees possible. “We thought, there’s a lot of need out there this year with the economy, and we figured the numbers were going to be a little low this year, and we are up two from last year, so this is another record year for us,” says Turpin.
Those who gave to the kids are helping kids like Shelby also give. “It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like a good older sister,” Shelby says. She’s found gifts for all her siblings, but that’s not all. “We all decided to get my mom something even though she told us not to,” Shelby says.
And finally, with what’s left, some clothes for herself. It’s a successful shopping spree with the help of a deputy. “He was really nice, and he was a lot of fun,” Shelby says.
The 90 kids who got to shop at the Ozark Wal-Mart were all referred by the Christian County Children’s Division. They’re from five to sixteen year old. About 20 officers helped out until all the kids got their chance to shop.
By Linda Russell