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Bringing joy to children

Area law enforcement officers spread cheer for the season

Photo by Doug Loyer Nikolai Craig shows off one of the items that Deputy Logan Schwendeman helped him shop for Saturday morning.

Washington County law enforcement officers spent Saturday morning at Marietta’s Wal-Mart shopping with kids to help make their Christmas a little brighter.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office held its “Cops for Kids” program Saturday, which was followed by the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge 12 holding its “Shop with a Cop” program.

Each of the two programs were able to shop for around 20 kids each. The effort by law officers, dispatchers and some family members was making a positive impact on area youth during the holiday season.

“These programs are awesome,” said Josh Wagner, Marietta WalMart store manager. “This gives us a great opportunity to support our local law officers as well as supporting the programs that they are involved in. It’s definitely a huge benefit to the community.”

Washington County D.A.R.E. Officer, School Resource Officer and “Shop with a Cop” organizer Dianna Hively of the Marietta Police Department said this year, the “Shop with a Cop” program purchased items for 20 children. Hively said she goes through Washington-Morgan Community Action to find kids that they can help.

F.O.P. Lodge 12, which does “Shop with a Cop” consists of officers from the Marietta City Police and Marietta College police departments.

“It feels good to do this,” said Lodge President Errol Kramer. “We try to do this every year. We like to see the kids show up excited and help them have a better Christmas. We like giving back to the community.”

Bob Heddleston is retired from the Marietta Police Department after 34 years and was shopping again for the kids Saturday.

“I’m a member of the F.O.P.,” he said. “I enjoy doing this. I’ve helped out with this for as long as we’ve been doing it.”

The law enforcement officers assisted the kids with their choices. They could get toys, clothes or maybe a few small items as gifts for family members. They helped put a lot of smiles on their faces.

“We weren’t sure what to expect, this is the first year we’ve done this,” said Dusti Tucker, of Marietta, who brought her son. “It’s so nice that they do this.”

Michelle Carpenter, who brought her grandson, liked the “Shop with a Cop” event as well.

“My grandson was excited this morning and was looking for the uniforms,” said Carpenter. “I just think this is wonderful … it’s great. I think I’m just as excited as he is.”

The Washington County Sheriff Office’s “Cops for Kids” program also helped around 20 kids Saturday.

“We do things a little differently in that we don’t have applications or anything like that,” said Sgt. Mark Johnson. “We rely on third party referrals that people tell us about.”

Johnson said there are some families that may be having a difficult year with medical or other situations. They try to help them out so they don’t fall through the cracks when it comes to kids getting things for Christmas.

“I think this is a good event, I really like it,” said Chris Holiday who brought his son Nikolai Craig, 3. “It helps kids get familiar with law officers and to see that they are good people. It also lets the cops go out into the community without pulling someone over or something like that and let us see that they are not the bad guy.”

“This is something that gets us out into the community and be interactive with kids, especially kids that may be in need,” said Deputy Logan Schwendeman. “This may help them get some things for Christmas that they may not have received. It’s great for us too. We love interacting in the community and being in a positive light. We want to show the kids that we’re out here to help them.”

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