For these kids, Santa wears badge

Published: December 11, 2006 | 5179th good news item since 2003

Christmas came early for 26 foster children in the care of Ashtabula County Children Services Saturday as they hit the toy aisles at Super Kmart with sheriff’s deputies in tow.

This is the ninth year for the Shop with a Cop program with the Ashtabula County Deputies Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 106. The lodge, along with other organizations, donate money for the event, which allows less fortunate children to shop for everything on their Christmas lists.

“This is always a special occasion for the kids,” said Nick Kerosky, Children Services community services coordinator. “They look forward to it every year.”

Kerosky said it is difficult for the children to be away from their homes regardless of the reason and the event is a way to take their minds off it.

The children aren’t the only ones who look forward to the event each year. Sheriff William Johnson and his deputies volunteer their time each year to put a smile on the faces of the children.

“This is the highlight of our year,” said retired deputy Mark Weber. “I can’t even envision going through Christmas without doing this.”

Weber still continues to participate in the event since his retirement in 2005.

“When you see the gleem in their eyes, you understand,” he said.

Lt. Greg Leonhard said out of all the programs the lodge puts on, this event is the one he looks forward to the most.

“With the support of different organizations, it’s nice to be able to share this with the children.”

Johnson said the program casts a good light on the department to let children know that the deputies and himself are their friends.

“It’s a great program for the kids,” he said. “Regardless of being with police officers, Christmas is Christmas.”

Deputy Brian Hubbard, president of the FOP lodge, said it is a good feeling to be able to do this for the children who might not have had a real happy Christmas.

“It makes you feel good doing it,” he said. “I’m just happy we are able to do it.”

Each child was given a gift card for $60 to spend on whatever he or she wanted. The FOP lodge donated $500, Ohio Cops 4 Kids donated $200, Becky and Bill Halman and Aaron Hoyle donated $260 and Kmart donated $20 per child. Deputy Julius Petro, secretary/treasurer of the lodge, said the deputies are always willing to put in extra money out of their pockets as well.

Following their shopping spree, Kmart officials host a party for the kids, complete with a visit from Santa.

Published in Christmas, Life
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