Twelve-year-old Josh Gray, of Hephzibah, was ecstatic.
Columbia County Deputy Shawn Merzlak checks out the items he selected with Jameano Semien, 14, at Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway, which played host to the Day With a Deputy trip.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I got clothes and a paint ball gun and shoes!" said Josh, in the midst of spending money from a $150 Christmas shopping spree in the second annual Day with a Deputy.
Josh was one of 23 underprivileged children shopping at Wal-Mart in Martinez on Monday.
Sponsored by local businesses, Day with a Deputy took 23 participants ranging in age from 2 to 17 and paired them with deputies who assisted them in shopping. The children were recommended by the Columbia County Department of Family and Children's Services.
Deputy Eric Snowberger, who coordinated the event, said the event had two purposes. Inspired by the Christmas spirit, deputies wanted to give their time to needy children, and the deputies also wanted to give the children positive exposure to officers.
"Some children get bad impressions of law enforcement officers. We wanted to try and give them a good impression. The kids love being out with the deputies," Snowberger said.
Amber Gray, 11, said she enjoyed Monday's shopping spree.
"I had fun. They were nice," she said.
The children weren't the only ones forming impressions. Deputy Rodger Holberton said he was very impressed by the boy he took shopping.
"I was with a 6-year-old, and he was an absolutely phenomenal young man," Holberton said. "He really knew how to shop! He picked out 15 or 16 items. One was a fishing pole. He just really had a good time."
The deputies volunteered their free time to participate.
"One deputy worked all night and got off at 6 this morning. She's here now, and she's going to work again tonight," Snowberger said.
The sponsors of Day with a Deputy include the Fraternal Order of Police, Wesley Mack Lodge No. 39, A.B. Beverage, Maner Builders Supply Co., Club Car, Wal-Mart in Martinez, Exchange Club of Columbia County, Dr. and Mrs. Allan Stocks, Trucks & Moore and Dr. Steven Wilson.
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