By the time Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were done donating for this year’s Shop With a Cop spectacular, they’d raised enough money–close to $16,000–to ensure that more than 90 children would each get $175 gift certificate to spend on presents for themselves and their families.
Friday evening, the big event rolled into Walmart, along with one of the year’s largest escort of cops from several agencies (somber occasions, of which there’s been many this year, notwithstanding).
“Shop with a Cop was a great success, and I appreciate everyone that donated and all FCSO employees who volunteered to take part in this amazing event,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “I’m very proud of our team that not only serves the community every day but also gives back to our community to help build a positive relationship between children and law enforcement.”
For 13 years the event was known as Christmas With a Deputy, the creation, from very modest beginnings, of now-retired Sheriff’s Sgt. Larry Jones. Jones ran the event as a non-profit, raising money through the Sheriff’s Office until last year. In January, the sheriff opted to sever ties with Jones and create the agency’s own charity, renaming the event Shop With a Cop, a more inclusive term that seeks not to exclude children who may not celebrate Christmas–and that many agencies across the country use for their holiday event.
The event kicked off with law enforcement officers and deputies from the Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (yes, it’s a law enforcement agency) and the Flagler Beach Police Department, along with detention deputies, all of whom pick up pre-qualified children at their homes. The children were driven in patrol cars to the Chiumento law office building in Town Center, where Shop With a Cop has traditionally kicked off for many years.
There, children engaged in games and activities before they traveled with their police escorts to Walmart, lights and sirens on. There, they shopped, each child paired with a cop and a cart. The children are selected through a list of the neediest provided by the Flagler County school district and through nominations by sheriff’s staff.
“Shop with a Cop is part of the mission of the Flagler Sheriff’s Children’s Charities organization and is sponsored and supported by” the agency, an agency news release states. “The goal of Shop with a Cop is to help children and families that are in need due to economic circumstances, domestic violence, or children that have been placed in the care of guardians so they may have some holiday cheer.” The event used to provoke all sorts of alarming responses from people driving by the Target shopping center (where Christmas With a Deputy took place for many years) as the huge number of sirens and lights suggested something amiss. But the event has caught on, diminishing panic.
Participation among cops has remained high. “Not only did they volunteer their time but they donated almost $16,000 to support the event and many reached into their pocket to pay any overage from their child’s shopping spree,” Staly said. “I encourage members of our community to support Flagler Sheriff’s Children’s Charities by making a tax-deductible donation. Our team truly enjoyed this experience and being able to watch the children get into the holiday spirit.”
If you would like to support Shop with a Cop and aid in the mission of spreading holiday cheer to the children of Flagler County for 2022, you can donate by clicking https://bit.ly/2Y4cMpg or by going to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/