When 40 kids were unleashed in Walmart on a Saturday morning before Christmas during the Annual Shop with the Sheriff event, it was a safe bet they weren’t making a beeline for home appliances.
The toy aisle represented the start and finish line for the wide-eyed young shoppers armed with $100 Walmart gift cards, eager to get their hands on the latest plastic playthings.
It marked the third year Sheriff Mary McFall Hopper and employees of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office hosted the shopping spree. Through the generosity of individuals and local businesses, the sheriff’s office hosted disadvantaged children selected from local schools at the giant retailer in Marple Township. The children were escorted by Hopper and her deputies through the aisles of the store as they chose gifts for themselves and family.
Sirens from fire trucks and police cars screamed as they entered the store’s parking lot. Santa sat perched on top of a fire truck waving to bystanders while the first snow of the season fell.
“I didn’t bring the snow but it’s an extra special treat. It makes it more festive,” Hopper said.
Hopper said the Shop with a Sheriff event is important because it allows for law enforcement to be out in the community and for kids to develop a good relationship with them.
“Christmastime is a time of giving,” said Hopper. “It’s helping the kids be able to buy presents for the families when they may not be able otherwise. I know I like wrapping and giving presents and I thought they might, too.”
De’imani Rosari accompanied her younger brother, Jai, on the shopping trip, and said he was excited to buy Christmas gifts for the family.
“He likes to play with action figures and game systems with his brothers,” she said. “All cops aren’t badl. This is a good thing to do with the kids.”
Deputy Mark Ellis would have purchased Nerf guns but he was assigned to a girl much more interested in Frozen and dolls during the shopping trip.
“It’s fine. It’s whatever they are into,” he said.