The Pineville Police Department held the annual “shop with a cop” event Thursday morning at the Middlesboro Walmart.
The police department raised money for the event through various fundraisers and donations. Due to the generosity of the participants in the fundraisers and from donors, the department tallied more than $7,500 for this year’s event.
Sixty children from various schools in the Pineville Independent School District were able to participate.
Students were selected through teacher recommendations from the various schools.
The police department arranged for the students to arrive at Walmart Thursday morning in two groups of 30.
The scheduling allowed each child to be paired with a cop or a volunteer to assist them with their shopping. The Walmart staff also provided additional help.
Each student was allowed to spend up to $125. The students had no restraints on what they purchase, except for being prohibited from buying prepaid cell phones, weapons and M-rated video games. Some exceptions were made with parental consent.
“We try to encourage the kids to get a nice coat, some pants and other clothes, but generally the kids want to shop for members of their family,” said Melonie Matthews, a volunteer with the shopping program.
Santa Claus was at the event to talk to the children.
In speaking with student Kenneth Taylor about what he hoped was waiting for him under the tree on Christmas morning he learned that “I want Santa to bring me a skateboard.” Taylor took time out of his shopping spree to have his picture taken with Santa Claus.
Parents were also allowed to accompany their children at the event. Sandra Thomas attended with her two children, Casey, 15, and Austin, 13. Austin hoped to get some new accessories for his bike with his money.
Reina Cunningham is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. She can be contacted via phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.