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Cops provide holiday gifts for local kids

December 23, 2013

Eden Garrard, 6, left, and Stella Jenkins, 2, shop the toy aisle at Walmart for baby dolls with Trooper Mike Mahaffey. (Staff photo/Brittany Powell)

Law enforcement officials from across Auglaize County visited Wapakoneta for the annual “Shop with a Cop” program,which is dedicated to providing for children during the holidays. 

Children and their parents accompanied the officials in the Wapakoneta Walmart during the month of December, walking around the store and pointing at the toys, clothes and other goods they both want and need for the holidays. 

“It’s fantastic,” Shelley Schultz, of Wapakoneta, said about the Shop with a Cop program. “We have a large family, so we really appreciate this.”

Shelley and her husband, Terry Schultz, spent time with their children, along with law enforcement officials, picking out clothing and other necessities for their family.

“We have nine kids — without this, we wouldn’t have as nice of a Christmas,” Terry said.

Each of their children were given the opportunity to pick out, not only the necessities, but any toys they wanted for Christmas.

“For them to take the time out of their lives to help us — we greatly appreciate it,” Terry said.

Shop with a Cop Chair Karl Lengerich, also the president of the Auglaize County Fraternal Order of Police, said there is a lot involved with the program, as the officials came from local police departments, the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Auglaize County Dog Warden, correctional officers, among others. 

“Since the mid ‘90s we’ve been soliciting donations and spending it at stores,” Lengerich said. “Each year, the money gets spent on Shop with a Cop.”

Lengerich said the money donated for the program is spent solely on the children and families Shop with a Cop is geared toward. The officials donate their own time and efforts for the program.

Locally, 90 children signed up for the program, and they each were given $150 to spend on toys and clothes. 

The money is collected through community donations through fundraisers provided by both law enforcement and other caring individuals and organizations. 

“I can’t express enough gratitude for the people that help us,” Lengerich said.

Deputy John Lunz, of the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, said he has been participating in Shop with a Cop for five years.

“I enjoy it,” Lunz said. “It’s good to get out into the community.”

Lunz said the program helps instill the idea that law enforcement officials are the “good guys,” and gives children a positive experience with the officers.

Lunz said his favorite aspect of the program is helping the children choose their toys, the extra gifts the law enforcement officials help provide.

“I enjoy seeing the kids get what they want,” Lunz said.

Lunz said the children are given 25 percent of their shopping expense on toys, while the rest of the funds are to be spent on clothing or other necessities.

“That way we are ensuring they are getting what they really need,” Lunz said.

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