ENON — Enon Police Chief Lewis Wilcox, eight of his officers, and Mad River Township Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Wise partnered Saturday morning to provide a special day of Christmas shopping for 20 under-privileged students from Enon and Hustead Elementary Schools.
The Enon second annual “Shop with a Cop” Christmas event got underway at 10:30 a.m. as excited students and their family members arrived at the Enon Government Center. Each student was greeted by a uniformed officer and presented a “Shop with a Cop” T-shirt, stickers, and police tattoos. The students also enjoyed a visit from Santa Claus and a photo session with St. Nick and local officers.
The students were then paired up with the uniformed officers and Administrative Assistant Kristy Thome to assist them with their shopping, and boarded a Greenon Local school bus which headed for the Springfield Wal-Mart Super Center.
“I am ready to get on the bus. I haven’t ridden one in years,” said Peggy Stewart, who accompanied her 8-year-old granddaughter Kaydence Bragg, a third grader at Hustead Elementary School.
As they descended on the store, students, family members, and officers were greeted by Wal-Mart Store Manager Anthony Harvey. Smiles graced the faces of both the children and cops alike when each student was given a spending limit of $100 to purchase Christmas gifts for them and their families.
Andrea Burdiss, whose 4-year-old son Journie attends the preschool program at Hustead Elementary School, said she was so thankful for the generous support from local officers, community members, local businesses, and civic organizations.
“I really appreciate this. I just moved and was faced with a $1,500 deposit. I didn’t know how I was going to provide Christmas gifts for Journie and my 8-month-old daughter,” said a tearful Burdiss.
Six-year-old Serenity Allen, who is a first grader at Enon Elementary School, said that she was scanning the aisles for gift ideas for her three sisters and cousin. Her mother, Shannon King-Allen, noted that the chance for Serenity to participate in the program came at an opportune time. King-Allen explained that she had recently taken in her 13-year-old niece to raise, along with her four daughters, following the passing of her sister.
“It’s such a blessing,” King-Allen said. “When I got the call, I was so thankful that God had opened a door and blessed my child.”
As they roamed the aisles of the toy department, several other students express their concerns for siblings and family members.
“I am going to use the $100 to buy my grandma, sisters, and aunt Charla something for Christmas,” Enon Elementary School fourth grader Shakira Hamilton said.
After more than an hour of filling their carts with gift items, from clothes, to games, to toys, the 20 students, with bags in hand, boarded the bus with their family members and police officers and returned to the Enon Government Center.
The Enon Police Department “Shop with a Cop” program was first launched in November 2012 when Enon Police Officer Ben Barrett, of Xenia, wanted to establish the program in the village, following his involvement with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department’s “Shop with a Cop” event for underprivileged children.
“It is a great program and forges a lot of relationships between the community and the police officers,” said Barrett. “I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me.”
“The officers did most of the work. I just plugged in the available resources,” Wilcox added.
According to Jeannette Wagner-Williams, whose son Sterling attends Enon Elementary School, “Shop with a Cop” not only provides a jump-start to the students’ holiday season, but gives local children and their families an opportunity to share time with local law enforcement in a positive setting.
“I think this program is awesome because society tends to fear the police. Our officers are part of the community, and they keep us safe,” Wagner-Williams said.
The police chief said everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially the officers, and he would like to expand on the program in 2014.
“This is a continuing project, and we anticipate some more exciting changes to the program next year,” Wilcox said. “I also would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the individuals, businesses, and groups that donated to the program. We are very appreciative of those sharing with us so we can share with others. From the members and staff at Enon Police, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings.”