The McMinn County Sheriff’s Department still plans to host its annual Shop With A Cop event this year.

The event allows children who are in need to buy Christmas items for themselves and their families with an accompanying law enforcement officer at Walmart.

This year the event is scheduled to be held on Friday, Dec. 18.

“People of the community have given us donations for the event and we have also raised money through a golf tournament that was sponsored by E&E Manufacturing that allowed us to raise a lot of funds for the program this year,” said MCSD Chief Deputy Matt Blair. “The various county and city schools across McMinn will select the students they feel need it most and provide us a list of names of the students that will attend the event and shop with our deputies.”

This year will operate differently than in previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are going to require that everybody involved, all of the officers, students, Walmart workers, and anyone else affiliated with the program, wear personal protective equipment, practice social distancing, and follow CDC guidelines,” noted Blair. “This year we will also be staging different times for the students to come so that we can social distance without having everyone arrive at one time like normal. We really want to continue the event but we have to do it safer this year.”

Blair is “extremely” proud to be able to host the event for the children whose families may need a little bit of assistance during the holiday season.

“We are proud to be able to do this every year, but in particular we are very proud to host it this year because of the virus and so many changes and struggles that it has brought about,” Blair expressed. “We are glad that we are able to take these students shopping, glad that we can strengthen the bond between the students and officers, and grateful that we can take these kids shopping so that they will have a good holiday.”

The inaugural Shop with a Cop event took place in 2013 and it often involves various law enforcement and court-related departments across the area.

As part of Shop with a Cop, children are presented with a $100 gift card that they are able to spend however they want on presents as officials from those organizations walk with them.

Email shane.duncan

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