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Kids, cops invade store for Christmas extravaganza

Christmas is a time of excitement and happiness for most children as they impatiently wait to see what Santa Claus brought them this year. But for some parents, Christmas is a time of worry and stress as they try to come up with additional money to give their kids a holiday to remember.
Last week, the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety helped give nearly 60 children the Christmas of their dreams while alleviating the economic hardships it may have caused their parents.
“We are going to give 58 kids Christmas this year,” said Police Maj. Natalie Hilton. “These kids would not have a Christmas if it weren’t for this program.”
The annual Shop with a Jonesborough Cop program invites children in need to a pizza party and shopping extravaganza at Walmart on West Market Street. The children are selected with the help of local school officials, who are able to identify kids who might go without this holiday season.
The evening began with a pizza party at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, followed by a police-escorted limousine ride to Walmart.
There, each child is given $150 to spend on whatever they want. Children are required to purchase at least one item of clothing or bedding. They are paired up with a police officer, firefighter or other local representative to do their shopping in about an hour.
The program doubled in participation from last year, with 58 children taking part.
“We raised $10,500 this year,” Hilton said. “That is double the money from last year, too.”
Still, not all of the children suggested for the program were accommodated. Hilton said she hopes to see the program grow again next year, with more donations coming in to help even more kids.