Local business hosts fourth annual Shop With a Cop

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Danielle Morin
Elizabethton Star
Police officers from across the Tri-Cities gathered together on December 5 to bring Christmas to underprivileged kids in Carter County.
Elizabethton’s annual Shop With a Cop event kickstarted at 5:30 p.m. on Monday with a pizza party and screening of “The Polar Express” at Elizabethton High School before shuttling the kids across the street to Walmart to do some Christmas shopping.
The event,which benefitted 67 students from Carter County and Elizabethton elementary, middle, and high schools, provided each child with $150 to spend on anything they wanted for Christmas. Students also received a $50 food box to take home after their shopping spree ended.
Elizabethton Police Officer Joe Holsclaw, who had organized a motorcycle run in October to fundraise for the event, said around 35 officers participated in the program this year, ranging from Elizabethton Police Officers to Carter County Sheriff Deputies and even officers from both ETSU and Northeast State Community College.
“It’s important to let them know that people still care,” said Holsclaw about the program’s impact on the community.
As the kids waited — surprisingly patiently — for their shopping spree to begin, many discussed with their partnered officers what types of toys they wanted to buy. One boy from Eastside Elementary said he had his sights on a brand new action figure with movable fingers — a feature he found fascinating. Another student shouted out, “Naruto!” before going on to describe, in detail, the different types of anime characters he enjoyed.
Both boys were partnered with Eastside Elementary’s SRO Kenny Lowe who said of the program, “It’s fun for the kids, they get stuff they need, stuff they want, and it just builds a stronger relationship between the community and the police department, which obviously we need nowadays.”
Another excited shopper was second-grader Olivia from Little Milligan. Olivia, who was shopping with her sister, Iris, and ETSU Officer Marc Rhea, said she was most excited about finding sloth toys. “I really like sloths!” Olivia said the program made her “happy,” and that she was looking forward to picking out some presents for her mom as well — a selfless trend that seemed to be common among the children.
Officer Rhea called the program, “a great experience,” saying, “I like engaging with the kids, it’s fun seeing them happy.”
Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley, who was experiencing the program for the first time since being elected into office, said the event made him “feel great” — “I’m more excited than the kids are,” he said. Fraley also emphasized the importance of events, like the Shop With a Cop program, that allows the public a unique opportunity in interacting with their civil servants. “Nationwide, we’ve had a few tough years where there’s been a lot of anti-police movements,” he said, “and I think this shows the human side of police officers and gives the officers a chance to interact with kids.”
While the program benefited a number of children in need, many officers said they felt that they got even more out of the program than the students did. Elizabethton Police Officer Doug Combs, one of the officers who helped organize the event, said, “We look forward to this every year, just the excitement the kids have, it makes your day.”

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