May 18, 2021

Giving spirit abounds at Heard County’s annual ‘Shop with a Cop’

The 4th Annual Heard County ‘Shop With A Cop’ took place at Target in Carrollton

(Franklin, GA) — Friday the 13th was everything but ‘unlucky’ for a large contingent of Heard County special needs children that enjoyed the fourth annual ‘Shop With A Cop’ holiday celebration.

The spectacle was something to see as a motorcade featuring Heard County School System’s Special Olympics Program and West Georgia area law enforcement descended on the Carrollton Target location with sirens blaring last Friday.

Uniformed officers from several agencies including the Franklin Police Department and Heard County Sheriff’s Office escorted over 30 special needs kids and three adults to the Carrollton Target location.

Upon arrival, these officers followed the participants through the aisles as they carefully selected toys, games and other holiday gifts.

Student volunteer Sarah Shelnutt (L) and HCSO Deputy Daulton Wiggins (R) help Callie Robinson find some clothing during ‘Shop with a Cop’

The Heard County Special Olympics program raised enough funds this year through sponsor donations and other fundraisers for every participant to be allowed $275 to spend in any way they wished.

In addition to the officers and personnel from the FPD and HCSO, Georgia State Patrol members, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office employees, teachers, administrators and specially selected student volunteers also assisted with the shopping.

The event delighted the officers and the children alike as they not only picked out typical games and toys together, but in some cases also purchased more functional items of need such as food, clothing and toiletries.

Beloved Heard High special needs student Nigel Echols was especially excited to be able to replace his recently broken pair of headphones with a slick new pair of “Beats” headphones.

Adult Special Olympics icon Dennis Shaw picked up some new jeans and other clothing items.

It was Dennis’s first time participating in the event and immediately after it was over, he was already excited and hopeful about being able to enjoy the experience again next year.

Some of the children even demonstrated their own spirit of giving by making purchases for others.

One of the primary organizers of this year’s event, Heard Elementary Assistant Principal Kim Tisdale, says that it takes a group effort and lots of community support to be able to pull off the extensive holiday shopping experience for the county’s most beloved and in many ways most important citizens.

“We had an excellent turnout and lots of great sponsors that helped us raise a lot of money this year — it’s just becoming bigger and bigger each year. It is such an awesome experience for our kids because so many of them do not get an opportunity to leave their house let alone go shopping for themselves,” Kim Tisdale stated during the event.

“This is just a great opportunity for them to come out into the community and be able to pick out things that they like and to just enjoy Christmas.”

In addition to the shopping event itself, the group enjoyed breakfast compliments of Chick-Fil-A before the shopping and having lunch together at the Carrollton Applebee’s.

Franklin Police Department Officer Nikki Chapman with Chloe Schroeder (Photo: CCSO on Facebook)

The Target store also handed out socks to each participant after they checked out at the register.

Franklin Police Chief Kevin Hannah expressed much gratitude to the surrounding law enforcement agency members that combined forces to make ‘Shop with a Cop’ possible for the smaller Heard County community to participate in.

“We are so fortunate to have such a great neighboring law enforcement community and if it weren’t for these neighboring departments like the Georgia State Patrol, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, and other area agencies, we would not be able to do this,” said Chief Hannah.

“Deep down inside the pleasure is self-rewarding — the work that goes into this pays off for all of us on this day and we are so fortunate and thankful — this is what Christmas is all about.”

Tina Holcomb organized the first Heard County event in 2016 and it has grown tremendously in the years following. The 2016 ‘Shop with a Cop’ began with just 13 participants who were each allowed to spend $75.

Additional sponsors of the fourth annual event included Smitty Transportation, Stephens and Stephens CPAs, McCormick Automotive, Callaway Family, Tiffany Sargent and Taylor Cates, Family Pet Care-Ben Shelnutt DVM, Center State Bank, Roger Harrod, Centralhatchee Parkway Baptist Church, Mike and Barbie Crockett, Town of Centralhatchee, S.O.F.A. Talk (Cora Betts), Lagrange Toyota, Newnan Ink, Tharpe and Associates, Coweta-Fayette EMC, Carrollton Golden K Kiwanis Club, and the Carrollton Fraternal Order of Police.

To see more photos of the annual ‘Shop with a Cop’ visit Heard County Elementary School on Facebook.

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