Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

‘Shop’ celebrates 6 years of giving

Some area children got more than expected under the Christmas tree this year, thanks to the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety and several other police and fire departments across the region.
For six years, these groups have joined forces as volunteers to assist more than 100 children in the area by making Christmas a little brighter for themselves and their families.
On Dec. 18, the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center became a fun-filled arena where children spent the evening with members of public service agencies across the region.
The children are pre-selected with concentration on their needs by the local school system and Shop With A Cop & Firefighter’s organizer, Jonesborough Police Maj. Natalie Hilton.
“The best way for us to be able to determine needs is by contacting the local school system,” Hilton said. “The teachers and guidance counselors are instrumental in determining which kids are in need and provide us with a list of who they recommend each year.”
Children and their siblings will also find special gifts at home from Santa Claus on Christmas Day.
These items came from donations to the St. Nick Nights in Downtown Jonesborough, the Shop with A Cop & Firefighter Angel Tree, as well as items donated to the police and fire departments.
Parents were given these gifts secretly after dropping their children off for the program that evening.
“It gives the parents relief that there are people willing to help them when they are struggling.
“And, it makes the holidays a little more enjoyable for the parents, knowing that Santa will be coming to their house on Christmas,” Hilton said.
The fun began with a pizza party followed by a meet and greet with the area’s public service agencies including Jonesborough Police and Fire, THP, TWRA, Johnson City Police, Tusculum Police, Embreeville Fire, Unicoi County and Carter County and area Constables.
After dinner, the children were treated like celebrities as they rode in limos from F and L Limo & Livery to the Wal-Mart located on West Market Street to pick out the most coveted items from their Christmas want and wish lists.
“There is nothing like Christmas through the eyes of a child. The magic of Christmas is something that everyone should look forward to, and no child should have to wonder if Santa will make it to their house this year,” Hilton said. “Shop with a Cop & Firefighter gives not just the child, but the police and firemen, a night to remember.”
The program takes support from the entire community and is completely donation based.
“Whether it is throwing loose change into a boot, sending a donation or picking a child’s name off the Angel Tree, Christmas is about giving, taking care of one another and remembering Jesus’ birth and what He has done for us,” Hilton said.
Upon arrival to the event, the children were partnered up with an officer or firefighter and were acquainted over pizza donated by area businesses including Papa John’s, Rocky’s, Jonesborough Pizza Parlor, Luke’s Pizza, Pizza Plus, The Black Olive and Little Caesars.
“When it comes time to get in the limos to go shopping, many of the kids have already attached themselves to their officer and want to stay with them by riding in their car,” Hilton said. “This program shows the kids that we are here to help, and are all kids at heart.”
While the children checked items off their Christmas shopping lists, parents and guardians picked up donated and wrapped gifts, including clothing, toys and food that were ready to be placed under the tree on Christmas.
After shopping, a group of volunteers was assembled to wrap the children’s new treasures before they are picked up by their parents or guardians.
The shopping lists included items children are in need of such as clothing and favorite toys.
Hilton and a group of volunteers spent the days leading up to Shop With A Cop & Firefighter dividing the donations among the list of children to be picked up that evening.
“The wish lists always consist of toys. But, many of the kids headed to the food section or wanted to buy something for their parents first,” Hilton said.
Planning for 2015 is already under way, as it takes Hilton and the volunteers a year to prepare and collect donations for the event that makes Christmas a reality.
A fundraiser is held each October at Jonesborough’s Pizza Plus, and numerous donations from people and businesses across the surrounding area take place year-round. With each donation, a tax donation receipt is returned.
Donations are already being accepted for next year’s Shop With A Cop & Firefighter program. Donations can be dropped off at Town Hall or the Jonesborough Public Safety Department, located at 123 Boone St.
“The event volunteers come from Kiwanis Club of Jonesborough, Cross Point Church of Jonesborough and employees from the Town of Jonesborough. There are many ways the community can help or get involved such as donating money, providing gifts or volunteering,” Hilton said.
“We appreciate the continued support from the community and businesses.”
For more information about Jonesborough’s Shop With A Cop & Firefighter program, contact Maj. Natalie Hilton at 753-1053 or [email protected]