Ten children participating in the Shop with a Cop program gathered at the Wadesboro Police Department Dec. 20, excitedly asking police officers questions as they waited for the program to begin.
The children were then taken to Pizza Hut, where 20 pizzas were waiting. Caroline Hightower from the Anson County Partnership for Children joined them and gave them books. This was the first year that Shop With A Cop partnered with the Partnership, according to Sgt. Kris Ray, who added that many of the children read their books while eating lunch.
Following lunch, the children went to Walmart, where 10 associates with calculators were on standby to help the children, according to Ray. Each child wandered the store with their assigned police officer and associate, who helped them find specific items and let them know how much they had left in their budget.
Each child was allotted $150 to spend as they liked. Chosen items ranged from a sparkly Hello Kitty fedora, school clothes and shoes to Beyblades, bicycles and more.
Shop with a Cop is funded by donations. The children are chosen with the help of the school system and the amount of money each is given depends on the amount of donations. “We’ve done it a couple of years,” Ray said, adding that the program wasn’t done last year. “We want to do it every year and help kids have a good Christmas.”
Some shoppers questioned why there were so many officers in the store. At least one donated money to next year’s Shop With A Cop fund.
“People are going through hard times and we try to help,” Ray said. “This is a year we know we’re helping and can reach at least  lives today.” One officer’s daughter volunteered to come along to see the program and help out, while some officers donated their time to spend with the children, Ray added.
Bikes are always a popular item with the young shoppers, according to Ray. The police department has some unclaimed bicycles that it hopes to clean and distribute within a couple of months to reach even more children. “These children don’t ask for perfect, they just ask for something,” Ray said. “It doesn’t have to be brand-new.”
In addition to Shop With A Cop, the police department is still supporting Toys for Tots, according to interim Wadesboro Police Chief Thedis Spencer. “Every little bit for Anson County helps,” he said.