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Law enforcement brings holiday joy with ‘Shop with a Cop’

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    Local law enforcement agencies banded together to spread holiday cheer during the annual Shop with a Cop event held at Cleveland Walmart on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. The Vindicator | Stephanie Buckner

CLEVELAND - Local law enforcement officers teamed up with Walmart management, as well as other local organizations, to spread holiday cheer to local families during the Shop with a Cop event.

The event, held on Friday, Dec. 9, has become a holiday tradition that local children and law enforcement officers look forward to. Members of the Liberty County Sheriff ’s Office, Pct. 5, the Pct. 6 Constable’s Office, and the Cleveland Police Department were paired with more than 60 children who were given the opportunity to shop alongside them.

Each year, the children are vetted by Minister Juanita Lewis with Resurrection Ministries. In the time leading up to the event, Lewis visits local churches and requests recommendations for children who may be in need. Lewis then works alongside other local organizations and nonprofits to help make the event a reality.

The children are then able to browse the aisles with an officer at their side.

Each child receives a $50 gift card to be spent on an item or items of their choosing. In previous years and this year, some children have chosen to spend their funds on gifts for family members instead of themselves. In these cases, Walmart associates and management band together to ensure that the child still receives a toy for the holiday season.

Pct. 6 Constable Zach Harkness said he was honored to be a part of the ‘Shop with a Cop’ event in its seventh annual year.

“I was pleased with the large turnout of law enforcement members from local Liberty County agencies who also participated,” said Harkness. “I would like to thank the donors in our area who helped make this a great community event for our children.”

Walmart associates were adorned with Santa and elf costumes as they provided refreshments and mingled with the children and their families, as excitement was in the air.

The event was first coordinated at Cleveland Walmart in 2015, and Walmart associates are always eager to spread joy and host the ‘Shop with a Cop’ event. They are hopeful that in the future, they will be able to raise more funds for the event, which helps alleviate some of the financial strain of the holiday season, as well as helps to foster positive relationships between local law enforcement officers and children within the community.