December 7, 2015 North Carolina Officers from multiple Police agencies including Asheville Police, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Hendersonville Police, Henderson County Detention Center, Buncombe County Sheriffs’ Office, Laurel Park Police, Fletcher Police, Asheville Police, Lenoir Police, Columbus Police Departments and the N.C. Highway Patrol paired up with 65 children to shop not just for themselves but for their families.
The greatest thing about this story is that many of the officers and kids looked forward to this event because they participated last year and looked forward to seeing the same person that they shopped with last year.
BlueRidgeNow covered this tremendous story and gave some examples like that of Lt. Brandon Staton with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office who came to “Shop with a Hero” for one student, 10-year-old Steven Cosimeno from Hillandale Elementary. “I’ve known Steven since he was in Kindergarten,” Staton said. “I saw him on Friday and he asked me to come and I can’t say no. I’m blessed to be able to participate with him.” he said.
Bonds are created through these programs as exemplified by Officer Pete Laite with the Hendersonville Police Department who still keeps in touch with the student he shopped with last year, the first year of the program, and looked forward to this year’s event. “I really enjoyed it (last year) and we had a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s fun to hang out with the kids. They get a kick out of seeing the cars and hearing the siren.”
The event was co-sponsored by Wal-Mart who’s store manager Mitchell Ruff said that this event is a unique opportunity for students.
“With the way the world is today, (these kids) don’t get the leadership they need,” Ruff told first responders during opening remarks before students arrived. “Today gives them a shoulder to lean on. It’s important that we’re making that human bond. Let’s take today and let them get to know you as a person. I truly believe that will make a difference in these children’s lives.”
Each student was allotted $100 to spend on gifts for their family, and any groceries purchased were covered by Wal-Mart. The shopping spree was funded through two Wal-Mart Foundation Grants.
Many students were excited to shop for toys and buy gifts for their families, while others were excited to buy necessities like food. Davion Kearse, 8, of Etowah, said the best part about Monday was buying toys. But he was also filling up his basket with lots of groceries. “We run out of food, so I’m here to get us food,” he said as he grabbed a box of Fruity Pebbles off the shelf.
Asheville Police Officer Scott Pruett said the event is a lot of fun, but “it’s an eye-opening experience.”
It wasn’t just the kids who were influenced by men and women wearing badges and uniforms Monday morning, though. Adams, from the Henderson County Detention Center has been looking forward to this day since last year as well. Adams shopped with Jacob Newman from Etowah Elementary, had the best time for the second year in a row.
“This kid is my hero,” she said.
13 schools from Hendersonville sent 65 students to pair with Law enforcement Officers to shop for Christmas
Photo Credit: PATRICK SULLIVAN/TIMES-NEWS