By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON — The Enon Police Department is gearing up to spread Christmas cheer once again this year as the department makes final preparations for its fifth annual “Shop with a Cop” event on Saturday, Dec. 3.
With just about a week before the big day, the department is still seeking donations to support the annual program in which off-duty, uniformed police officers pair up with underprivileged students who attend Enon Primary and Indian Valley Intermediate Schools and their parents for a fun-filled holiday shopping spree.
Each year, the village police department teams up with the Greenon Local School District and Springfield Walmart Super Center, located at 2100 N. Bechtle Ave., for the annual event. Greenon Local School officials provide Enon Police Chief Lewis Wilcox with a list of 20 students who are experiencing financial hardship and would benefit greatly from the charitable program.
The school district also supplies bus transportation to and from Walmart for the students, their parents and police officers. According to Wilcox, a number of local families deal with a variety of struggles during the holidays and simply need a little assistance when purchasing Christmas gifts.
“It is our goal every year to help children who have not participated in the ‘Shop with a Cop’ program in the past,” Wilcox said.
“Shop with a Cop” will kick off at 8 a.m. at the Enon Government Center, where officers will be serving up tasty donuts and cold drinks to all the students and their parents. In addition, the students will have the opportunity to visit and have their pictures taken with Santa Claus who will be visiting the government center that morning.
“Santa will be taking time out of his very busy schedule to join the officers and children before everyone boards the school bus for the long-awaited trip to Walmart,” said Wilcox.
Once everyone arrives at Walmart, officers will grab shopping carts and shop the aisles of the store with the students. Each student will be allowed to spend up to $100 for gift items, including various presents for family members.
“We will purchased the gift items with the money we collected from the National Night Out raffle, the Enon Pizza Festival, the Enon Car Show, and the generous donations we received from village residents, local organizations and area businesses,” Wilcox said.
The police chief noted that the holiday experience is also a perfect opportunity for village police officers to create a stronger bond with local children. For the first time this year, some of the officers’ spouses will be joining the students during their holiday shopping extravaganza.
“I can say without hesitation that all of the police officers look forward to ‘Shop with a Cop’ and gladly donate their time each year to support this event,” Wilcox said. “It will be a special day that all the children are sure to remember.”
The Enon Police Department “Shop with a Cop” program was first launched in November 2012 when former Enon Police Officer Benjamin Barrett told village council members that it was his desire for the police department to participate in the nationwide program. According to Barrett, who is a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy and Greene County resident, the idea to establish the program in the village came from his previous involvement with the “Shop with a Cop” program at the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.
“The ‘Shop with a Cop’ program has gone a long way in restoring my faith in humanity,” said Wilcox. “Some individuals have even walked up to us at Walmart and slipped $10 or $20 into our hands and say, ‘It’s not much, but use it for the kids.’”
Those wishing to donate to “Shop with a Cop” are asked to mail checks to the Enon Government Center, 363 E. Main Street, or drop off cash or check donations at the government center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For more information contact Wilcox at 937-864-7870.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.