Sheriff Robbie Holland and about 10 other volunteers endured the cold morning air last Saturday morning to raise money for the annual “Shop with a Cop” program. The program enables public safety agencies from across the country to collaborate with community members in bringing an early Christmas to kids in need. Holland and the Macon County Sheriff’s Department began the program 14 years ago, with each year gaining more and more traction among supporters.
“We organized and got Wal-Mart to support whatever the auction raised, they would contribute and match it,” said Sheriff Holland. “We provided Christmas to 16 kids in the first year, and since then, it has grown and grown. Last year, we provided Christmas to 218 kids,” said Holland. “This program is very personal to me, it’s very near and dear to my heart. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my career,” said Holland.
This year, the annual event was organized by Franklin’s Chris and Holly Owen, and the two put together a 5k race that attracted 16 participants last Saturday morning. Each runner paid a $25 entry fee and event organizers also accepted donations. After all was said and done, the event raised $1,477 for local children this Christmas.
Two Franklin High School cross country runners finished in the top two positions in the race. Caleb Albrecht finished first, with a time of 23:33. Harrison Conner placed second with a time of 23:48. Macon County’s Sheriff’s Department was represented by Patrick Merritt, who finished in third place with a time of 27:14.
Last year, Wal-Mart announced that Macon County had the largest “Shop with a Cop” program in the nation associated with Wal-Mart. On Dec. 22, The Macon County Sheriff’s Office, with support of other local law enforcement agencies, will take kids to Wal-Mart and use the funds to make this Christmas a happy one for local kids. “Wal-Mart will be the safest place in the county that day,” said Holland jokingly.