Twenty-three happy kids — all holding $100 to fulfill their Christmas lists — had a happy holiday spree Dec. 12 at Wal-Mart on Rt. 58, thanks to the Oberlin police department’s Shop With a Cop program.
Now in its fifth year, the program helps children in need throughout the community. Patrolman and school resource officer Billie Neadham has overseen the initiative since its inception.
“I pull the kids out of class and I tell them what’s going on and for their family to meet me at Wal-Mart,” he said. “The look on their face is astounding. It’s just amazing to see. The feeling of knowing you might have changed someone’s Christmas is hard to put into words.”
Funding for the program comes through donations from the retail giant, area businesses, and the police department.
Kids were also treated to a visit from Santa Claus as well as cookies, cupcakes, and a meal from McDonald’s after they finished shopping.
Sheri Strobbe of Oberin took her daughter, six-year-old Eastwood Elementary School kindergartner Lily Campbell, to participate amidst a swarm of youngsters eager to hit the aisles.
“She got a paper sent home last Friday saying she was selected,” Strobbe said. “I knew about the program but I never knew how they picked the kids. I’m on disability because I have (multiple sclerosis), so our funds are very limited. Lily has three little sisters at home too. This is not always a good time of year for us. Her dad has Crohn’s disease and is on Social Security, so this means a great deal to us for her to be able to do this.”
“I kind of got butterflies when we found out, honestly,” she said. “I never expected it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.