With four grandchildren to care for, a Whiteland grandmother knew getting Christmas presents would be a struggle this year.
But an annual event helped her granddaughter get some of the essentials she needed, including clothing and a Hatchimal, this year’s still highly-sought-after toy.
“I don’t know what I’d do without this,” Liz Wade said.
Wade’s granddaughter, Hailey Martin, was one of 50 kids participating in this year’s Shop with a Cop event. The event, organized by the Johnson County Fraternal Order of Police, provides Christmas gifts for families in need in Johnson County. With help from the United Way of Johnson County, organizers selected 50 children whose families might not otherwise have been able to afford to purchase Christmas gifts for them, said Tevis McLaughlin, the organization’s president.
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Dozens of local law enforcement officers participated in the event, giving back to their community and hopefully giving children a positive experience with police that they will remember, they said.
Greenwood Police Officer Randy Eck had help from his wife, Pam Eck, and their three teenage daughters shopping for 7-year-old Hailey.
The trio of teen girls — Courtney, Ashley and Emily — led Hailey around the clothing section at the Meijer store in Greenwood to find pants, shirts and a winter hat that would fit her, holding up different items to see if they were the right size. And they made sure to grab Hailey a Hatchimal before those ran out.
Eck, who has taken part in the Shop with a Cop event more than a dozen times, likes to have his family involved, not only to help with shopping for a young girl, but because of the opportunity to teach his daughters about the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate.
For 18-year-old Courtney Eck, she enjoys watching children’s eyes glow as they go around to pick out the toys, she said.
“It’s one of my favorite times of the year,” she said.
Wade is glad she lives in a community where this type of assistance is available, she said.
“I couldn’t ask for a better community,” Wade said.
With $250 to spend on each child, officers make sure to prioritize getting hats, gloves, coats and shoes before rushing off for the toys, something parents said they appreciate.
A Spider-Man hat and gloves were an instant hit for 6-year-old Mason Rosenkrans. What his mother was most excited about was the new pair of shoes he was able to get.
“I told him, ‘Go for the shoes,'” Kim Rosenkrans said.
For the Greenwood resident, who is a single mother of two young boys, getting clothing to keep up with them as they grow is a challenge, she said.
Both Mason, and his 7-year-old brother, Aiden, took part in Shop with a Cop. Kim Rosenkrans’ father is a police officer, and she was glad for her sons to get more positive interactions with police, she said.
Bargersville Police Officer Jim Surd was responsible for taking an enthusiastic and excited Mason shopping.
“It was awesome,” Surd said. “He was bouncing off the walls.”
This was the second time Surd had taken part in Shop with a Cop, an experience he described as incredibly rewarding.
Children aren’t always able to experience positive interactions with police, and he hopes this will leave a good impression for Mason and the other children they took shopping, he said.