Washington County sheriff's deputies are in the process of making their list and checking it twice for an annual Christmas shopping spree aimed at helping some less fortunate children.
The department's members of the Fraternal Order of Police Gold Star Lodge 188 recently held its annual benefit auction, raising just over $17,000 for the cause.
The goal is for officers to take 25 to 35 area children to the Marietta Kmart on Dec. 4 to spend about an hour with each child fulfilling wish lists. Approximately $300 is spent on each child.
"Most of it does go on items for that child, but we also encourage them to consider getting a little something for mom or dad, or a sibling," said Detective Sgt. Mark Johnson. "It's always nice when you find one who is more concerned about that than getting anything for themselves."
Lodge members choose children from contact they've had with families over the past year, and nominations from churches, Washington-Morgan Community Action, Washington County Children Services and letters from the community, which are still being accepted.
All nominations should be mailed to the lodge's P.O. Box as soon as possible. This is the 12th year for the "F.O.P. Cops and Kids" event, formerly known as "Shop with a Cop."
How to help
To make a donation or to recommend a child for the annual F.O.P Cops and Kids Christmas shopping event write to:
Gold Star Lodge 188
P.O. Box 2133
Marietta, Ohio 45750
"We really try to help the kids and families that aren't getting help elsewhere, or help throughout the year," Johnson said. "I'm talking about the single parent who works, but may not have a lot to spend at the holidays, or the family who has someone laid off and they're struggling to keep up with their mortgage. Generally, the folks who are just down on their luck at this time."
In addition to helping the children selected, Johnson said every child in foster care in Washington County, currently 32, will receive a $100 gift card from the police lodge.
Johnson, who has been involved with the event for the past decade, said the shopping trip also serves as an opportunity to connect with the children.
"It shows the kids that we can be their friends and that one-on-one time, even though it's only an hour, is a good experience," Johnson said.