VIENNA - Over 100 area children had a chance to shop for Christmas toys Sunday with the help of officers from several area law enforcement agencies as part of the Shop With a Cop program.
About 50 children visited the Vienna Wal-Mart, which has been assisting with the holiday gift program, on Sunday afternoon and the rest gathered at the south Parkersburg Wal-Mart later in the evening with the help of Fraternal Order of Police Blennerhassett Lodge 79.
Lodge president Joe Gonzales said the Shop With a Cop program is an annual project of the local lodge, raising thousands of dollars to help local children have a better Christmas.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Jacob Pence, 7, of Parkersburg, shops Sunday at the Vienna Wal-Mart with Susanne Cross, a correctional officer with the St. Marys Correctional Center, as part of the annual Shop With a Cop program.
The program has been taking place locally for about eight years and he estimated between 100 and 120 children participated in Sunday's shopping.
"We do a fund drive throughout the year to raise money for this event and we've been very fortunate that the citizens of Wood County have been very gracious in assisting us, as well as the Wal-Mart company and their employees," Gonzales said.
Officers from several municipal, county and state agencies joined in Sunday's program, taking children and their parents around the two local Wal-Mart stores to look for Christmas gifts.
Fraternal Order of Police Blennerhassett Lodge 79 held its annual Shop With a Cop program Sunday at the Vienna and south Parkersburg Wal-Mart stores.
Between 100 and 120 area children received gift cards through the program to buy gifts and other items for Christmas.
Officers from several municipal, county and state agencies helped the children find toys and other items to buy for the holiday season.
"They've given their time to assist these children and Shop With a Cop and make them feel comfortable when they're around law enforcement officers so if they ever have to come in contact with law enforcement it makes them aware that they are there to help them," Gonzales said of the participating officers.
"It's really cool, I like it," Vienna resident Amanda Eagle said of the program as she and her daughter, Miranda, shopped Sunday at the Vienna Wal-Mart with PFC Scott Carpenter with the Parkersburg Police Department.
Carpenter has been participating in the Shop With a Cop program since it started.
"I look forward to it every year," he said. "It's a good program. You meet a lot of nice kids and you're able to interact with them."
"We're hoping that we can make a difference in the community and help these kids have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy it the way that we believe that they should," Gonzales said.