Auglaize County Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Ernst, from left, a sergeant for the St. Marys Police Department, and Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon, right, accept a donation from the Haehn family in memory of former Auglaize County Sheriff Larry Longsworth. Presenting the donation on behalf of the family were Leah Feldner, a dispatcher at the Auglaize County Sheriffâ€™s Office and niece of Longsworth; the former sheriffâ€™s wife, Janice Longsworth; and his son, Aaron Longsworth.
The family of a longtime Auglaize County sheriff honored him by giving to a program to help area children.
“Every year, at our Christmas party, in lieu of buying gifts for each other, my family donates to a needy cause,” said Janice Longsworth, the wife of former Auglaize County Sheriff Larry Longsworth, who died in June after a battle with esophageal cancer.
The family hosting the party for the year decides where the money is to go and this year, the Haehns suggested Shop with a Cop, in memory of Larry Longsworth, who served as county sheriff for 16 years.
For Janice Longsworth, who this week was honored with membership in the county’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which puts on the event each year, she said being able to give to such a worthy cause is an honor.
“It’s a great program,” Janice Longsworth said. “It helps children who don’t have as much as we do.”
Leah Feldner, Longsworth’s niece who also serves as a dispatcher at the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, said it is a good way to give back.
St, Marys Police Department Sgt. Mark Ernst, who is serving as president of the Auglaize County FOP this year, said the $1,000 the Haehn family gave will go a long way in helping children in need next Christmas.
Through the program, officers shop with children at an area store, spending at least $150 per child, with 80 percent of that used for clothing needs. In 2012, the program served more than 100 Auglaize County children.
Children in need are referred through Auglaize County Job and Family Services and the Auglaize County Crisis Center, with applications also available.
“It’s based on need,” said Ernst, sharing that they rarely turn anyone away.
Officers who participate in the annual program often say they get as much enjoyment out of it as the children.
Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Jerry Sawmiller, who coordinates Shop with a Cop, said it provides a nice Christmas to families and children in need, who may not otherwise have one. It is a way local law enforcement can give back to the community.
Shop with a Cop is in its 18th year of helping children in the county with the majority of funding coming from donations, such as this one from the Haehns.
“The community is very generous,” Ernst said.
He said this donation in particular means even more coming from the former sheriff’s family.