PHOTO: Enjoying a morning of shopping were (from left) Bianca Waters, Wanda Waters, Maliyah Harris (in front of Wanda), Tertian Buchanan (in cart), Sgt. Brant Pewitt of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Melissa Hayes of the citizen’s academy and Jamarion Elee. / Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN MCBRYDE
Moments after the family’s name was called, Kira Brown and her two young daughters joined a Franklin Police officer Sunday morning to celebrate what was effectively an early Christmas.
The officer, Clint Buchanan, was one of several law enforcement personnel who participated in the annual Shop with a Cop event held at Walmart in Cool Springs and hosted by the Morris Heithcock Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #41. Some 150 children from pre-screened families were selected to do their Christmas shopping with officers from across Williamson County. Local residents and businesses had donated a total of $30,000 to fund the outing.
As each family’s name was called, youngsters ranging from pre-school age to teenagers joined with their parent or guardian along with an officer to set out on a shopping spree for everything from clothing and shoes to health and beauty items to, of course, toys. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the kids or the law enforcement folks.
“It’s a great experience,” said Buchanan, who escorted Kira Brown and her daughters Ariah and Jakhiya,
“just giving back to the community and being able to help people that may not have as good a Christmas as we may be able to have… It builds a good relationship with the community to know that we’re here to help them in a different way than patrolling. We’re here to meet any needs that they may have.”
The event helped to put a positive light on law enforcement’s interaction at times with youth, according to Kurt Russell of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.
“You see the negative stuff all the time,” he said as he helped two teens from the Tennessee Children’s Home in Spring Hill. “And to do something like this, which is actually positive, is a beautiful thing. Usually when we interact with kids it’s not so much in a positive light.
“This is positive and they’re very respectful. They’re great kids who just had a bad break in life. To help them out just a little bit means the world to me. If I can just make one kid’s Christmas joyful or happy, it’s worth it.”