Photo: A photograph from the 2011 Christmas Shop with a Cop event
By LANDON WOODROOF
Franklin Police Department Detective Andy Green remembers the family well. Several years ago, they suffered a devastating fire just weeks before Christmas.
A patrol officer with the department referred the family to the Morris Heithcock Lodge #41 of the Fraternal Order of Police. The lodge puts on Shop with a Cop events each year where local law enforcement officers get partnered up with families in need and buy clothing and presents for kids.
This family in particular stood out to Green.
“They were choked up,” Green said. “What a rewarding experience being able to help people who just suffered the tragedy of losing everything they had in a house fire.”
The next year, Green saw the family again, but this time they were in a different position.
“They were so grateful they came back the following year and volunteered to come help the needy” at the event, Green said.
That kind of story is what Shop with a Cop is all about. Not only does the event create bonds between officers and the public, it bestows a gift on everyone who participates: families, volunteers and officers. Whether they get a new winter coat and a favorite toy or whether they get the pleasure of buying that winter coat or favorite toy, everyone leaves the event with something to hold onto.
This season’s event will take place Sunday, Dec. 17 at 7 a.m. at the Walmart Supercenter at 3600 Mallory Lane in Franklin. Volunteers are still needed and can show up at 6:30 a.m. to take part. The plan is to meet near the restaurant area inside the store.
Hollie Cummings has volunteered at Shop with a Cop events for several years. A 2010 graduate of the Brentwood Citizen Police Academy, Cummings has a passion for volunteering alongside police officers to help better the community.
She is passionate about Shop with a Cop.
“I love it,” she said. “I think it’s amazing to see the interaction between the officers and the families in a non-difficult situation. It’s a fun situation. It’s a positive situation.”
Many of the families who are chosen for the event are referred by local police officers. Others are referred by the school system or places like Mercy’s Children’s Clinic.
This year the officers will help out 76 families with close to 165 children between them. The FOP chapter uses phone solicitations to raise money for the program. Each child gets $200 worth of items.
“What we start off with is getting them winter clothing, coats, shoes and then once we get the clothing taken care of we go over to the toy areas,” Green said.
Cummings said her role as a volunteer largely consists of keeping a running tally of costs as more items are chosen.
“I just kind of let them know that so they can keep moving along and enjoying the interaction with each other and the shopping,” Cummings said.
Any members of the public with an appreciation for the cause can come to Walmart on Sunday to volunteer for the event.
Members of the Brentwood Police Department, the Franklin Police Department, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney General’s office, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the United States Secret Service have all participated in the local Shop with a Cop event over the years, Green said.