Cops bring Christmas cheer to local kids
MPD celebrates 10 years of Shop With A Cop
By Logan Watson
Looking back on 2016, there were a lot of headlines that pulled at our hearts, both locally and nationally. The duty of the messenger can be a heavy burden to bear, and the weight on our local law enforcement officers is exponentially greater. But for one night, all the negativity of the preceding year is washed away by the smiles of children.
Anyone stopping by the Milan Walmart to pick up a few groceries last Tuesday and Thursday nights got to witness firsthand the joy that the Milan Police Department’s annual Shop With A Cop program brings to the community. Kids ran down aisles laughing, cops put on silly costumes and the jolly “ho ho ho” of a man in a big red suit echoed throughout the building. It was the absolute best of humanity on display, and it did everyone’s soul good to see it.
Thanks to the donations made by members of the community, city employees and the officers of the MPD, the 10th Annual Shop With A Cop program was able to raise approximately $21,500 to provide more than 100 underprivileged children with a Christmas they will never forget.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Milan Patrolman Hakim Hart, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s about giving back and making kids happy.”
“When we started this program, we had about fifteen kids,” said Milan Police Chief Bobby Sellers, who has been a part of Shop With A Cop since its inception. “In the ten years that we’ve been doing this, the amount of donations we have received each year has never gone down. It just goes to show you that the people in our community, our city employees that donate from their paychecks and the businesses in Milan are some of the most generous people anywhere in the state.”
According to Communications Sergeant Stephanie Williams, who has organized the Shop With A Cop program for several years, each child between the ages of 4 and 14 received approximately $210 to spend on anything their hearts desired. Siblings of the children participating in the shopping spree who did not meet the age requirements still received $100.
“We’re not going to make those kids watch their brother or sister shop and not give them anything,” said Sgt. Williams. “Mom can use that $100 on diapers or whatever they might need.” Each officer was also instructed to make sure that the children spent at least $30 on clothes, school supplies, coats or books. Williams gave a special thanks to several local businesses, including Milan Box Co., Steve Marsh Ford, Physician’s Quality Care and Darnell’s Tavern, for the “family size” donations that helped make the program’s two-day, 10th year anniversary possible. In addition to the shopping spree, children in need were also provided with warm winter coats donated by other local businesses and individuals.
Law enforcement officers from the Milan Police Department, Gibson County Sheriff’s Office, Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Trezevant Police Department and the Huntingdon Police Department each volunteered their time to help brighten the lives of these children on Christmas day. Students from the MHS D.A.R.E. program also volunteered to help the officers shop with the kids and served pizza to the group beforehand. The event began at 5:00 p.m., and several officers were still going down the aisles
“I really like stuff like this,” said GCSO Deputy Antonio Bufford. Dept. Bufford, who experienced the MPD’s Shop With A Cop program for the first time this year, said that he had never seen anything done for families on this scale. “I’m big into helping kids, and things like this are really going to make a difference in their relationship with the police when they grow into young men and women.”