WEIRTON - The Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy Association mobilized this weekend to help children in need brighten up their Christmas with the association's annual "Shop with A Cop" program.
On Sunday, officers from the Hancock County Sheriff's Department and community volunteers assembled at the Kmart in Weirton to provide assistance to kids and their families as they shopped for Christmas gifts bought with money raised throughout the year.
This is the 24th year for the program and in that time it has helped provide a happier Christmas to 4,200 less fortunate children in Hancock County.
PARTICIPANTS — Larry and Nicole Cline, foster parents to one of the children participating in this year’s Shop with a Cop, shop alongside Deputy Pat Hoder of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department at Kmart in Weirton. This years’ program raised approximately $12,000 for about 100 children. -- Devin Bezeredi
"We're proud to have helped kids and citizens for so long here in Hancock County," said retired Hancock County sheriff's sergeant and event co-chairmen Tom Tompos.
Tompos co-chairs the program along with Deputy Pat Hoder.
The program relies mostly on public donations and those made to collection cans at business throughout the county. The association also teams up with other charity programs like "Toys for Tots" to help raise money.
"We're the largest Christmas organization in Hancock County next to the Salvation Army," said Tompos.
Tragedy and hard times often cause children to be involved in the program. Tompos explained that some children in the program had lost parents and in past years some participants in the program had lost their homes to fire.
Tompos recalls one year in which the principal at New Cumberland Elementary contacted the program because children from one particular family had been coming to school with nothing but light jackets and slippers in the dead of winter.
Though "Shop with a Cop" is primarily a Christmas program, Tompos stated the Hancock County Deputy Association will assist children and families in the event of a tragedy.
Anyone wanting to recommend a child or family who has suffered a tragedy for the program should contact Pat Hoder at the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
This year's Shop with a Cop is specially dedicated to Carrol Shepherd who has volunteered her time with the program for the last 22 years but was unable to make it this year because of illness.
To make donations for next year's Shop with a Cop, make checks out to "Shop with a Cop" and send it to P.O. Box 2206 Weirton, WV 26062.
(Bezeredi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)