More than 120 kids helped through SWAC program

A week out from Shop With a Cop Eric Mills said the group had 70 kids they were planning to shop with and for last Saturday, but by the time the event rolled around that number grew to more than 120.

“Some came in after we had the initial number,” he said. “We actually took about 70 with us. Some of the kids’ names we had were too old to go with us and some of them were too young so we just did the shopping for them and it ended up being about 120 in total.”

The event last Saturday was in person after the 2020 Shop With A Cop had volunteers doing the shopping and then delivering the gifts to the children and families. Mills said everyone involved was glad to have the event return to the normal format.

“It was nice to have things back to the way they were,” he said. “We love to be able to see the kids face to face and to be able to bond with them and build relationships. That’s why we are able to get so many volunteers from so many different agencies, because other similar programs don’t have the interactions like we do. It’s one of the things that makes our event very unique.”

In addition to the Salem  Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, there were volunteers from the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources sent conservation officers. Officers also brought family members, as well.

Volunteers also included first responders, dispatchers and members of he community.

Mills said the event wouldn’t be the success it is without the many volunteers who make it happen.

He got emotional when he spoke of one of the long-time volunteers who died earlier this year, Marie Lowery. The local Fraternal Order of Police donated a wreath in her honor and placed it where she would normally stand welcoming and waiving at the kids and the officers as they arrived at Bradie Shrum.

As owner and operator of McDonald’s Lowery began providing the meal after the Shop With a Cop shopping was finished. That’s a tradition that began in the mid to late 1990s and one McDonald’s in Salem has continued since Lowery sold the business.

The wreath was presented to Lowery’s son Jeremy and his wife Brianne at Saturday’s event.

“We thought it was important to recognize her for all the work and heart she put in to the event,” Mills said. “It was hard not seeing her standing there waving, but I was glad we were able to remember and honor her in the way we did.”

Another group who Mills wanted to recognize are the people who make the event possible.

“The people of our community who give to us always come through,” he said. “We don’t even have to do a lot of asking. We mention Shop With a Cop a few times in the local media and we always have enough to buy for the kids whose names we have. Every year you wonder if we will have enough and we always do!”

Mills said with Christmas just two days away they are done for the year, but he said they have begun taking donations for 2022. Anyone who would like to donate can do so through the Salem Police Department or the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.


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