As volunteers gathered for the shopping Dec. 8, Billie Ray, lodge president, said 40 families and 85 children would benefit from this year’s program.
Ray signed in representatives of families who were teamed with volunteers and shopping carts. This year, close to $12,000 was being spent for COPS.
Helping with shopping for the first time was Eric Burris, Tipp City’s police chief.
“I think it is nice for people to see us in a more positive light,” he said.
Also on hand was Santa Claus who, before participating in the shopping, had to stop to greet children who spotted him arrive as they waited with their parents at the customer service desk.
His role, Santa said, was joining in the “spreading of Christmas cheer.”
Families for the program are identified several ways, said Carmen Barhorst, director of the county prosecutor’s office Victim Witness Program. Some are families that crime victim advocates have worked with while others are referred by the sheriff’s office and Children’s Services, she said.
In addition to the shopping, each family receives full meals with a turkey or ham, potatoes, vegetables, rolls and pies.
Barhorst said the victim witness staff participates in shopping, wrapping and deliveries in addition to raising funds by helping at the annual FOP golf outing
“The community of Miami County and surrounding counties has supported us with this program, “ Ray said, noting major donations from Meijer and a company out of Sidney.
The program also is supported by donations from citizens and the July golf outing held at Stillwater Golf Course near Versailles.
“I can’t say enough about the generosity shown by everyone who donates. The citizens of the county have giving hearts, and we appreciate it,” Ray said.
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