By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON — Enon Police Officers and Mad River Township Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Wise made the holiday season quite a bit brighter for 19 disadvantaged children in the Greenon Local School District as they partnered up with the kids for the Enon Police Department’s fifth-annual “Shop with a Cop” on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Each year, Enon Primary and Indian Valley Intermediate Schools principals and teachers select the children, ages 5-11, to participate in the shopping event.
“We always asked for a group of students who have not participated in ‘Shop with a Cop’ in previous years,” Enon Police Chief Lewis Wilcox said. “We want to provide a good Christmas for as many children as we can.”
The excited students met up with the police officers at 8 a.m. at the Enon Government Center and visited with Santa Claus who had traveled from the North Pole especially for the event. After the students finished a snack of donuts and juice, they, their parents and a few grandparents boarded a Greenon Local School bus with the officers who were armed with $100 gift cards to spend on holiday gifts. The group then headed out for a morning shopping spree at Springfield Walmart Super Center.
Once they arrived at the store, the cops grabbed shopping carts and began surfing the aisles with the students and their parents, shopping for special gift items. For many of the students, such as a kindergarten student, the shopping trip was a chance to do more than just cross off items from their own wish lists. The student said she wanted to use her $100 gift card to buy gifts for family members, especially her sister and brother.
“[She] is a very sweet child and just wants to buy for her family members. However I talked her into buying a gift for herself,” said the student’s mother. “This is a very positive program and a great way for the kids to get acquainted with local police officers.”
For Enon Police Officer Josh Lish, this first-time experience with the students provided a unique opportunity for the officer to build special relationships and trust with the children.
“It is all about the kids,” Lish said. “It has been a lot of fun, and it is great to see the big smiles on the kids’ faces.”
A 9-year-old fourth grader at Indian Valley Intermediate School searched the store aisles for Pokemon cards and X-Box games. According to the student, who was garbed in a Pokemon shirt, “This was the best day ever!”
“[The 9-year-old student] is so excited and does not know what to look at first,” said his grandmother. “This is a wonderful blessing, and we are very thankful [he] was chosen for the shopping trip.”
As Officer Robert Durham escorted 6-year-old and 11-year-old siblings through the store aisles, it was difficult to determine who was having more fun. The 6-year-old ran directly to the bicycle aisle and picked out his first new bike with the help of Durham and other officers. Once the excited first grader at Enon Primary School made his choice, he was allowed to ride the bike to the checkout. Tears rolled down the 11-year-old student’s face when Durham used a $100 gift card to purchase one special gift for her, a RCA 10 Viking Pro Tablet.
“This is the most beautiful gift that I have ever received. This is the best program, and the police officers really made an effort to get to know us,” The 11-year-old said. “I want to thank all the people who help us during this Christmas holiday and provided donations for this shopping trip.”
“This is an absolutely wonderful program, and the officers have been really nice to everyone,” The sibling’s mother added.
Chief Wilcox, who noted that he was very touched by the 11-year-old student’s reaction, said he was impressed with the number of children who headed for the shoe department first.
“This gives the officers and me a feeling of joy to be able to help these children,” said Wilcox.
Enon Police Lieutenant Michael Holler, who has participated in the annual “Shop with a Cop” for all five years, said he looks forward to the event every year.
“This is a way the officers can come together with children in the community and engage with them and their families,” Holler said. ”It is an enjoyable experience every year.”
As the students and their parents finished up their shopping and headed for the checkout, the 5-year-old kindergarten student could be heard singing her own rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
“[My 5-year-old daughter] definitely has the Christmas spirit,” the kindergarten student’s mother said with a chuckle.