- Published on Wednesday, 26 December 2012 11:49
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The 1st annual “Shop with the Sheriff” program was held this week to the delight of 25 children, ages 4 to 14, who were treated to a shopping trip at Walmart and then food and music at the King George YMCA. The event was sponsored by the King George County Sheriff’s office, the YMCA, Walmart and Foote Title.
“I heard a little girl, while they were shopping at Walmart, tell the children around her that this was going to be her best Christmas ever,” said King George Sheriff Steve Dempsey. “That says it all.”
Dempsey’s deputies were assigned as “buddies” to help the young shoppers find their gifts in the super-sized Walmart store in Dahlgren. “That allowed the children to see the deputies as people who cared about them,” said Elizabeth Clark, the YMCA Executive Director who coordinated the “Shop with the Sheriff” event. Other volunteers included King George Commonwealth’s Attorney Keri Gusmann.
Children selected by The King George Social Service Department were presented with “Shop with the Sheriff” T-shirts, and then taken in two buses to Walmart where in the company of a “buddy” they were allowed to pick $100 worth of gifts each, including clothes, shoes and one toy.
“The families have been so overwhelmed by the generosity of the sheriff’s office,” Clark said. “It allowed the sheriff’s deputies time to get to know the children and the children time to make a special connection with a deputy.”
Clark said the program was modeled after similar programs the YMCA is running in other parts of the country. “We were initially going to take 15 children shopping, but there was so much interest and I just could not turn anyone away. So we had 25 children and it was wonderful.”