Though chaos might be expected along the toy aisle of Wal-Mart during the week before Christmas, the place to be Monday for nearly 50 Columbia County children was the clothes section.
The children who attended the sixth annual Day With a Deputy were thrilled to be able to buy Christmas presents with a Columbia County Sheriff's Office deputy.
"A lot of the kids that come to this end up buying coats, clothes and shoes, but some still buy toys. And some of the children will come in with a Christmas wish list to buy things for their whole family," said Lt. Patricia Champion with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
Sgt. Eric Snowberger said the number of children involved with the event has grown from about 20 to 47 this year.
"A lot of these kids wouldn't have much of a Christmas, if any Christmas at all," Snowberger said. "So I enjoy seeing these kids getting presents and them possibly getting a better impression of law enforcement."
The children, along with the 40 deputies, started the event with a free breakfast at Bojangles on Washington Road in Martinez.
"The people at Bojangles really stepped up for us this year and we're really appreciative of that," Snowberger said.
The children involved were chosen by guidance counselors at area elementary schools.
"These are the people that get to see the children every day and know who really needs help this Christmas," Champion said.
Each child was allowed to buy up to $175 in merchandise. According to Wal-Mart store manager, Jason DiLorenzo, the employees do what they can to make the event happen, from cutting prices on certain items to helping sponsor a child.
Although Snowberger and Champion were worried about finding sponsors during the economic downturn, they found enough to supply the funds needed for the event.
Annie Jones, who attended with her grandson, said there is an overwhelming number of families in need and having her grandson take part made her proud that the sheriff's office would do something like this for children in the community.
One of those children, 9-year-old John Ziegler, said he wanted a new bike for Christmas.
"My bike got stolen," he said, while looking at the bikes with a deputy.
"This is a great opportunity to see the children's faces light up and for some who would not have a Christmas without this," Champion said.
Katrina West brought her two daughters, Kishaundra, 9, and Shamya, 8, to Day With a Deputy.
"This is a blessing," West said.
"My husband has been out of work from having back surgery and I'm glad my girls will see that people will help you out if you need help."
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