Santa with a Badge comes to town
Dozens of the area’s youth saw first hand a heart-warming effort by local law enforcement officers to bring cheer to Christmas.
Saturday morning, more than 30 police officers and other members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 83 gathered at Target in Martinsburg where they were paired with children who needed a little assistance in making it a Merry Christmas.
Lt. Tom Hansen with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, who helped coordinate the event, indicated that there were approximately 120 children who gathered at the store between 9 and 11 a.m. Each child or family was paired with an officer and given $75 per child to spend.
The program, formerly known as “Shop with a Cop,” has been in existence for more than 25 years.
Hansen shared that he and his wife, Jenny, have participated for the past 15 years.
“”It fills my heart every time we come here,” Hansen said of the shopping experience.
He explained that in years past, the amount of dollars per child has sometimes been a little higher; however by providing $75 per child, the officers were able to assist more children.
The participants in the program are recommended by family members, churches and school systems who see a need.
This was the first year for Target to participate in the program. It has been held at other retail stores in the area in the past.
Human Resources manager, Jessica, with the Martinsburg store, expressed that they were very happy to be a part of the program this year. The store opened early for the police and their young shoppers and Jessica shared that volunteer staff came in to assist with shopping duties if needed. In addition, the store provided donuts and drinks for the children to go along with breakfast sandwiches sent in by the Martinsburg Chick-Fil-A.
Young shoppers Miracle and Nevaeh Walls partnered with Elizabeth Mahoney, also with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The three could be seen perusing the beauty aisle and later in toys and treats.
Nevaeh said her favorite thing purchased Saturday was nail polish (which she can share with her sister) while Miracle chimed in that snacks were top on her list.
“These girls are some great bargain shoppers,” Mahoney laughed.
Ranson Officer Robbie Roberts summed it up when he said, “I enjoy watching the kids and seeing the expressions on their faces.”
Roberts has volunteered with the program for nearly 25 years.
“It’s a tradition,” he stated.
Hansen said that officers came from Jefferson and Berkeley counties, Martinsburg City, Ranson, Charles Town and the Reserves, among others.
Funds for the shopping spree come from the FOP Lodge 83 who are currently doing an annual fund drive for this and other projects. The tab for Saturday’s shopping event topped out at just about $10,000.
“The generosity of businesses and the community giving helps us to do this,” Hansen said.