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Shop with a Cop/Fireman serves need in community

“Without this, our family would not have had a Christmas.”
As Christmas approaches, some in our community find themselves in difficult times. 
Starting in November, we begin fundraising for one of the most important programs for children in our community — Shop With A Cop/Fireman.
Initiated by the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety, overseen by Maj. Natalie Hilton, this program is designed to provide for needy children and their families who would not otherwise be able to have a Christmas, allowing them the opportunity to enjoy the holidays despite the difficulties they are experiencing.
Alternately, this program is designed to build and maintain a much needed bond between children in our community and the police officers and firemen.
To this end, the program teams a child with a police officer or fireman for a day.
Together, they attend a pizza party and ride in a limousine to shop for themselves or family using money donated to the program.
After dropping their child off at this night of festivities, the parents are given several wrapped gifts for Christmas morning so that they can give another, and all too often new, experience to the child: Santa.
In the end, a family that would have had little or nothing on Christmas morning will be able to enjoy the holiday sharing gifts.
This program is community run. Funding used to finance this is 100 percent private donations from the community.
It is these donations that make this program the great success it is.
Last year, we had over $10,000 given to the program, and we were able to help 76 children and their families enjoy Christmas.
In addition to service clubs and residents, first responders all volunteer their time for this important program.
Last year, officers and firemen from Jonesborough Public Safety, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Unicoi County, Tusculum Police, Embreeville Fire, and Johnson City Police participated in the program.
Those watching the officers and the kids interacting, riding and shopping together say they will never forget seeing the joy the children experienced as they and the Cop/Fireman walked through the store picking out presents for their families for the holidays.
Building a strong bond between the community and its first responders begins with parents and teachers laying the foundation as their children grow.
Programs like this and the School Resource Officers in our schools are examples of the way the parents’ teaching is supplemented as these men and women reach out in a meaningful way to the children in the community.
If you would like to donate to this program, you may drop a donation off to the Public Safety Office located at Town Hall in Jonesborough.  
Jonesborough Kiwanis also is a major sponsor of the event. If you would like to contribute a tax-deductible donation to this program, just send a check made out to the Kiwanis of Jonesborough Foundation, P.O. Box 826, Jonesborough, Tenn. 37659 before Monday, Dec. 1.
One hundred percent of the money donated to Shop With A Cop through the  Kiwanis Foundation or the Public Safety Office will be used for this program.
Christmas is a special time of the year, a time of joy through giving.
Shop With A Cop/Fireman is a way our community can spread that joy to others.