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'Smiles on the kids' faces makes it all worth it'

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A Whiteland girl looked at her shopping basket full of clothes, toys and a purse shaped like a dog and smiled.

“It’s going to be up to here,” Peighton Shirley, 6, said, putting her hand a foot above the pile of items in the cart.

Peighton Shirley picked out the clothes and toys Saturday at the Johnson County Fraternal Order of Police’s annual Shop With a Cop event. Without the event, Peighton’s mother said her daughter and 12-year-old son would not have received much for Christmas

Trisha Shirley said she and her son both had to have surgery this year, which has racked up high medical bills for her family, and her own surgery has prevented her from returning to work.

Though Trisha Shirley would have been able to buy a few presents for her children this year, she said she could not afford the cartloads they received at Shop With a Cop.

This year, the Fraternal Order of Police used more than $10,000 to buy presents for 42 Johnson County children, lodge secretary Scott Carter said.

Families applied for the program through local schools and nonprofits, and local police officers took the children around Meijer to pick out $200 worth of clothing and toys.

Franklin police officer Adam Joseph and his wife, Amber, helped Peighton Shirley pick out new shirts, some movies and a candle.

In the candle aisle, Peighton Shirley pointed to a black one called “After Dark.” Joseph twisted off the candle’s lid and held it for Peighton Shirley to smell. The 6-year-old scrunched her nose and shook her head.

“You don’t like that one, huh? Me neither. It smells like old man perfume,” Joseph said.

Joseph has volunteered at Shop With a Cop every year since 2006, when he started working at the Franklin Police Department.

“Getting to see the smiles on the kids’ faces makes it all worth it,” Joseph said.

Prince’s Lakes police officer Lisa Bertram said the event also gets children familiar with police officers while they’re young and shows them they can go to police for help.

At Meijer, Bertram helped Southport resident Tara Ingram’s children pick out coats, hats and gloves along with a few toys.

In the clothing section, Bertram held a shirt with a panda’s face on it up to Elizabeth Tanner, 5.

“Is that you?” she asked. “Oh, that’s so you.”

Tanner agreed and put the shirt in her cart, along with two pairs of jeans and a few arts and crafts toys.

Ingram said Tanner and her 1-year-old son Lukas would not have received Christmas presents without the event. The Greenwood mother is currently out of work, and her husband does not make enough at his job for them to buy the children presents.

Ingram has never taken her family to the event before and said she was surprised by how many gifts her children were allowed to pick out.

“This is amazing. I never would have been able to do all this,” Ingram said.

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