Police officers crowded the Martinez Wal-Mart store Monday morning.
There was no crisis. Columbia County sheriff’s deputies and explorers, board of education officers and marshal’s escorted 50 children on a shopping spree as part of the 11th annual Day with a Deputy.
Each of the underpriviledged children were given $200 to spend as part of the 11th annual event, said sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Massey. It began with an 8 a.m. breakfast, included posing for a picture with Santa Claus and then shopping.
Jennifer Oglesby, 5, knew exactly how she wanted to spend her money. After necessities such as clothing and shoes, Jennifer made it straight for the toy section on the hunt for a doll with butterfly wings.
“She knows exactly what she likes,” said her foster mother, Linda Akeson.
Jennifer couldn’t stop smiling as she picked out the doll, princess and Minnie Mouse dresses and a furry, barking puppy dog.
Massey said the children were selected based on referrals from Columbia County school counselors.
Like most girls would, the Lawson sisters – Carla, 10, Americus, 7, and Leanna, 5 – headed straight for the shoe aisle. After each got shoes and fuzzy slippers, they went clothes shopping.
Leanna went right at a black coat covered with flowers and peace signs. She simply grinned as she tried it on.
Only after they all got shoes, clothes and other necessities did they peruse the toys.
The program, which makes sure children have a good Christmas, is funded by business and private donations throughout the year.
To make a donation toward next year’s program, write a check to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office with the notation “Day with a Deputy.”