St. Francois County Sheriff’s Association Annual Shop with a Cop program was a huge success again this year. Each of the children went shopping with a police officer, a fireman or paramedic to pick out gifts up to $100. According to Sheriff Dan Bullock, the program came about as a way to let underprivileged children know they were the “good guys.” He said for many, the only time they saw a law enforcement officer was when Mom or Dad were getting dragged off in handcuffs. “We wanted them to know they can run to us and not from us and that we were there to help,” he said.

The St. Francois County Shop with a Cop program began in 1992 under the leadership of Officer George Cobb. They served some 70 children that first year. Three years later, Rodney Harris joined Cobb and they worked together until 2007, when Cobb retired. The program has continued to grow over the years, allowing them to provide gifts for close to 500 children. Sheriff Bullock said it’s heartwarming to see the compassion of the children, many of whom use their money to buy gifts for parents and siblings instead of themselves.

The Audrain County Sheriff’s Office, along with other agencies, provided Christmas for about 50 kids through their Shop With A Cop program. They also delivered about 30 Christmas care packages to Audrain County homebound seniors for the Mexico Senior and Nutrition Center. A special thanks goes to Deputy Cody Burson for his hard work that started last December. Sheriff Matt Oller also said he wanted to thank all the members of the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office, members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol (Audrain County Zone), Conservation Agent Norman Steelman (assigned to Audrain County) and members of the Mexico Public Safety Department for donating their time to put smiles on the faces of the kids they shopped with and to the Mexico Walmart for their great cooperation and free gift wrapping too.

Another exciting year of Shop with a Cop at the Potosi Walmart! Thanks to the generosity of the community, members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol were able to take 100 children ages 2 to 13 shopping for gifts. They could buy something for themselves or could use their money to buy gifts for their family members. Throughout the shopping excursion, volunteers and children got to share stories, snacks, laughs and most importantly… memories! According to Sheriff Zach Jacobsen, everyone involved in this multi-agency program had a wonderful time. “It was such a joy to put smiles on these young people’s faces! We want to say thank you to everyone who has donated toward this program, volunteered their time and effort, and all those who have supported this multi-agency commitment,” he said.

Thanks to more than 80 businesses and individuals, the Camden County Shop with a Cop program was able to provide Christmas gifts for more than 174 children this year. Sheriff Tony Helms said the long list of donors warms his heart. “I have so many good things to say…I am so proud of my county for its involvement in Shop with a Cop. Our citizens did this. I am so thankful for their generosity and support of this program and also for the help we received from numerous volunteers,” he said. Participating agencies included the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, the Camdenton, Osage Beach and Linn Creek Police Departments, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, park rangers with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and agents with the Missouri Department of Conservation.