The holidays are difficult when you’re a parent and can’t afford to buy your children Christmas presents.
Until Jessica Rastelli found out about the Williamsburg Police Department Shop with a Cop program, she only planned to give out books to her four and one-half year old son, and her two 13-month-old sons.
“We made a stop at McKays in Knoxville. We were trying to do it low cost because things are a little tight right now,” Rastelli noted. “This (Shop with a Cop) is great. They can have actual things. It is a huge relief to have this. It is a great service to our community. Whenever I can, I will help donate back into the program.”
Williamsburg police and numerous volunteers took 140 children on $100 shopping sprees at Wal-Mart Thursday as part of the Williamsburg Police Department’s 13th Annual Shop with a Cop event.
In all they spent a little over $14,000 on the less fortunate children.
“I have done it for a long time. Every time we do it, you run into that kid that just melts your heart,” said Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird. “It is a heck of a feeling to come out here and see these kids get a Christmas. It just warms your heart.”
Bird noted that without a doubt this is the most positive thing his department is able to do throughout the year, which means a lot not only to the children and their parents, but also the officers involved in it.
“It is kind of a stress reliever for us. After the stuff we are dealing with out there every day, we get to come in here and see these kids enjoy getting Christmas presents,” Bird said. “For me it is a huge stress relief to come over here and spend time with kids that get what they want for Christmas.”
A record 80 volunteers turned out Thursday to help police take the children on their shopping sprees.
“It is one of my favorite things that we started,” Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said Thursday. “To see these kids leave here smiling, that is Christmas. I have to really shout out to all the people that came out to volunteer today. Everybody kind of came out tonight to volunteer. This has been a really special evening. I am tickled to death.”
Harrison added that the volunteers came from a number of organizations or businesses, including: the University of the Cumberlands Women’s Basketball Team, UC Cheerleading, the Williamsburg High School Lady Jackets Basketball Team, Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart, city hall staff, the Williamsburg Police Department, the Williamsburg Fire Department, Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky State Police, Whitley County Detention Center, Whitley County EMS and others, who just gave of their time.