ST. GEORGE — Washington County residents awoke to sirens Saturday morning as police officers, sheriff’s deputies and other first responders from all over the county escorted 100 lucky kids to three different Wal-Mart stores to go Christmas shopping for the annual Shop with a Cop.
The morning started at the Washington County Regional Park, or fairgrounds, with an early breakfast for the kids and cops and others assigned to help them. Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher fulfilled his now familiar role of serving up hotcakes and eggs to the crowd.
In years past, breakfast was served at the Elks Lodge, but now that the program has become too big, Pulsipher took it upon himself to get everyone fed. Food was donated by Sysco Food this year, he said, and volunteers came together to serve, cook and make sure everything ran smoothly.
After breakfast, the kids rode along with their assigned officers to the stores. They drove with full lights and sirens all the way there.
“We turn the sirens on to bring some attention to the program,” Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said. “The purpose is to bring some attention to what we’re doing, and also it’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids.”
When one group arrived at the Washington Wal-Mart, everyone was surprised to see a helicopter flying overhead. The kids were even more excited when Santa Claus himself stepped out.
“Gilbert Development, which is a huge sponsor of our program, allowed us to fly Santa in,” Buell said.
Each child was allowed $150 to spend on whatever they liked, whether that was toys for themselves or presents for their family.
The program is supported by many different law enforcement agencies around the county.
“The county attorney is here, county commissioners are here, some of the heads of agencies from even some of our federal partners, the FBI, and we’ve got officers from across the entire county: highway patrol, state parks, all the police departments,” Pulsipher said.
The kids, who are from families in need, are chosen by the “Kony Coins for Kids” program. The officers involved all said how grateful they were for the opportunity to work with the program.
While shopping, both the kids and the officers were all smiles as they shared the holiday spirit.
“It’s a great program, and we love doing it,” St. George Police Officer Jeremy Needles said.
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