BY LISA WARREN
About 400 local youngsters were treated to a special shopping trip on Saturday morning at the Greeneville Walmart, courtesy of the Greene County Law Enforcement Association's annual "Shop With A Cop" program.
Because the need was so great this year, organizers say, an additional "Shop With A Cop" outing is expected to be held later this month to help even more children.
The "Shop With A Cop" program has been sponsored locally since 1991 to aid local children at Christmas time who are in financial need.
On hand to assist were more than 50 Association members, all of them law enforcement officers from the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Greeneville Police Department, Tusculum Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that operate within the county, according to retired Greeneville Police Detective Lt. Stewart Kilgore, who is president of the Association and helps to organize the annual event.
Several retired police officers and many community volunteers also assisted in the effort, including Sarah Stokely, Miss Greene County, and Kelly Mrock, Miss Greene County Outstanding Teen.
Starting at 8 a.m., the young shoppers and their parents and guardians waited until an officer was available to escort them through the store and assist them. The children were allowed to spend up to $50.
However, Kilgore said that some of the children who were in need of coats or other clothing were allowed to spend a bit more.
Walmart provided extra employees to help with registration, and dedicated additional cash register aisles to aid the "Shop With A Cop" effort.
Following the shopping outing, the children and their parents or guardians were treated to a pizza lunch at Pizza Inn.
Kilgore thanked everyone who helped make the event possible, especially those who contributed funds toward the program.
Persons who would like to contribute toward the next planned "Shop With A Cop" can do so by calling Kilgore at 972-2613 or by dropping off a check or money order made payable to: "Shop With A Cop" at the Greeneville Police Department.