Franklin's new Walmart was properly inducted into the holiday season on Friday, Dec. 21, when hundreds of children packed the aisles for Macon County Sheriff's Office annual Shop with a Cop event. For 14 years, Shop with a Cop has been spreading the holiday spirit throughout the county.
Local law enforcement officers accompanied the kids on a shopping spree and then to lunch afterwards to get acquainted. Although kids were able to choose from an assortment of toys, most of the kids said their favorite part of the day was having the chance to ride in the police cars and hang out with officers from Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Highlands Police Department, NC Wildlife, Franklin Police Department, State Bureau of Investigation and other agencies.
Each year, funding for the program is made possible through events held by a drove of organizations and businesses throughout the year, like the Rotary Club. This year, the community's support allowed 234 children to take part in the program, with the majority of the children never being a part of Shop with a Cop before. “The event is the culmination of a year's worth of work done by multiple agencies, the community, and families in Macon County,” said Sheriff Robert Holland. “Everyone who took part in the event made a child's Christmas, and that is what the holiday season is all about. I want to give a special thank you to Walmart and the employees who not only made a significant contribution toward the program, but also made sure our first year in the new Walmart was a success.”
Children not only sorted through Barbie dolls and action figures for themselves, but they were also able to get gifts for their siblings and parents, so everyone would have something under the tree on Christmas morning.
After bombarding Walmart Friday morning, children were treated to lunch with officers at the fast food restaurant of their choice before heading over to Macon County's Environmental Service Building to wrap gifts and meet with Santa.
New this year, local motorcycle club The Enforcers were on hand to provide each child with a warm winter jacket to take home. Volunteers filled the room with wrapping paper to help children wrap presents for the whole family. Read2Me also had an assortment of books for children to choose from, to either take a book for themselves or to give the gift of reading to a brother or sister.
According to Sheriff Holland, each year there is always something “special” that happens that reminds him and the participants what the true meaning of Christmas really is. This year something special came in the form of an eight-year-old boy.
“I have always encouraged the officers to bring their families with them so that they can learn what it is all about,” said Holland. “Corban Tallent has participated in the program for years with his mom and dad, and this year, he came with an idea all on his own on how to give back.”
Tallent raised money to provide stockings for all of the children who participated in the event. Stockings full of fruits, candy, toys and other holiday goodies were personally handed one by one to each child from Tallent. “I think it is important to do what you can to help other people, especially at Christmas,” said Tallent. “I decided I wanted to give other children stockings because that is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.”
Sheriff Holland noted that Tallent's contribution to the event was far more than just a stocking, but it was especially significant because it meant he knows the true meaning of Christmas.
“He could have been making his own wish list longer for whatever toys or games he wanted this year, but instead, it was his wish list to help other children. Corban is a little kid with a big heart and I am so proud of him,” said Holland. “All year long he looks at us police officers as his heroes, but really, he is our hero.”