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Helping to fill children’s wishes brings joy of Christmas home

Helping to fill children’s wishes brings joy of Christmas home
Helping to fill children’s wishes brings joy of Christmas home
Nine-year-old Lele puts a red sweater in the shopping cart manned by Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick during the annual Shop With a Cop program Saturday morning at the Corydon Wal-Mart Supercenter. With them is Lele's mother, Chrissie Lawton of Corydon. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

For a couple of hours Saturday morning, Adam Caldwell had the opportunity to experience the joy Santa Claus has each year when he gives a child a gift.
Caldwell, a senior at Prosser School of Technology in New Albany, gave a wrapped package to each of the 72 children who received clothing, shoes and a toy through the annual Shop With a Cop program sponsored by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 171.
Through other community service projects he’s been involved with, Caldwell said he hasn’t gotten to see the kids who are helped.
‘Here we get to see the children,’ he said.
The children and their parents, grandparents or guardians arrived at the Corydon Wal-Mart Supercenter about 6:30 a.m. After checking in and receiving a number, they were paired with a law enforcement officer or an officer’s family member. Wyandotte Lodge 171 consists of officers from several departments within Harrison and Floyd counties, as well as the Indiana State Police and Dept. of Natural Resources’ conservation officers.
About 20 Lodge members participated this year.
After a trip through the clothing department, shoes and toys or electronics, shopping carts filled with the selections were taken to two reserved check-out lines.
Caldwell and others greeted each child as they came out of the line and, after finding out their age, gave them a wrapped gift supplied by Wal-Mart. One little girl couldn’t wait to get home to open her gift. And after unwrapping it, she sat down on the floor between the two check-out lines to play with her new gift.
‘That was so precious seeing her so happy,’ said Neal Houglin, a detective with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Dept. and an officer with the Lodge.
The children were also treated to breakfast at McDonald’s before leaving the store.
Ted Heavrin of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Dept., who helps organize the annual event, said fund-raising efforts went better this year. The Lodge used a direct mail request rather than phone solicitation. Heavrin said some people had become concerned about fraud when contacted over the telephone.
Prosser students in Sandy Flatt’s information technology department helped the Lodge create a database to track donors.
‘It was our way of giving back to the community,’ Flatt said. ‘We do some type of community service project every year.’
Past projects include Angel Trees, blood drives, Head Start activities and assisting the Salvation Army.
‘I think this makes them more well-rounded people,’ Flatt said.
Through the generosity of others, Lodge members were able to purchase $225 worth of clothes and a $25 toy for each of the 72 kids who were helped, Heavrin said.
‘When you tell people what the money is used for, they’ll reach in their pockets,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, we probably turned away another 25 to 30 requests for assistance.’
After the final tally, Houglin said about $2,000 is still needed to pay for expenses this year. ‘So we still need to raise a little more,’ he said.
Anyone who wishes to contribute can do so by sending a check to: Wyandotte FOP 171, Shop With a Cop, P.O. Box 657, Corydon, IN 47112.
If donations exceed what is needed for this year’s shopping spree, the money will be carried over to start next year’s fund-raising drive.
For more information about the program, contact Houglin at 1-812-948-5407.