• Laurel Contributor

Make Sure a kid Has Christmas

by Caroline Cook

The beautiful spirit behind Shop With a Cop unites needy children with Macon County law enforcement officers for a bit of Holiday Cheer, sponsored by the community.

Shop With A Cop is a program for children who will have little or no Christmas – a dynamic charity led by the local law enforcement officers acting in coordination with teachers, churches, after school programs, and community organizations like The Mountain Garden Club and the Rotary Club of Highlands.

Each participating child will have a $100 electronic debit card to spend at stores of the child’s choice, or a $100 Walmart gift card. These children are taken shopping by a law enforcement officer from Macon County, with help from the US Forestry Service, military reservists, NC State Troopers, teachers, and others who help the children make choices for their purchases.

Each child is to buy a gift for someone else and then shop for themselves – due to many children, in the past, purchasing items just for the home, like toilet paper and other necessities. Many children still purchase these items with the remaining funds. One memorable time a little girl ran to the linen department for a pillowcase…because she’d never had one.

A date will be selected in December for the children to be taken to Walmart. However, some children are taken to Walmart after Christmas. Last year Macon County LEO’s continued to take children shopping through the second week in January, because the Sheriff’s Department kept finding out about children who had no Christmas.

Approximately 420 children were in the SWAC program last year. All these children are from Macon County – Highlands, Franklin and Otto.

There are many children from the Highlands area – the number of food-challenged children in Macon County is 62.5 percent.

After shopping, the children gather for a meal with their LEO and a visit with Santa. Officers and other escorts help the children wrap presents and then take the children home.

Checks should be made payable to “Shop With A Cop.” Individual donations are 501(c)(3) donations for tax purposes.

The Mountain Garden Club of Highlands endorses this program and members volunteer to help raise funds for SWAC.

Mail the checks to Caroline Cook at P O Box 2785, Highlands, NC 28741, or drop them by the Highlands Police Department behind Town Hall.

If you hear a small voice on Christmas morning, it may be a child saying “Thank You.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear a chorus? Send your check today. Merry Christmas.

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