Fayette sheriff’s charity program helps 39 kids have merry Christmas

Shopping with a sheriff’s deputy

Sometimes the best way to make sure someone gets what they want, and particularly what they need, for Christmas, is to take them shopping.

That’s just what members of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office did Saturday morning at the Fayetteville Walmart.

Armed with more than $15,000 in donations from the community, they were able to take 39 needy children and their families shopping for necessities such as coats, shoes, clothes and bedding ... and a few nice toys too.

Each of the families helped by the annual “Shop with a Sheriff” program was nominated by a Fayette County school counselor and also was independently verified before they were selected to participate, organizers said.

Several families participating this year had severe medical issues among at least one parent, including one awaiting an organ transplant, one with a brain tumor and other issues, said Fayette County Sheriff’s Investigator Josh Shelton.

One of the young participants made sure that one of the first thing in his shopping cart was a gift for the annual Toys for Tots program.

Shelton noted that sheriff’s employees who participate in the program do so on a volunteer basis and no one is paid for the work. The program is also incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit, meaning that all donations are tax deductible.

One of the biggest donors was Mike Medici of Premiere Transportation in Forest Park, who donated $5,000 this year and has a charitable holiday program of his own, Shelton said.

Beyond the good the program does for the families it helps, it also has fringe benefits for the sheriffs who volunteer to participate each year, Shelton said.

“A lot of them tell me it really makes their holiday,” Shelton said.

Shelton said he is always pleased in particular because the parents of at least one family that is down on their luck is always known as volunteering often at school despite any hardships.

“Things are tough for them, but they’re still out there trying to do what they can to help do their part, and I love that,” Shelton said.

In its four years, Shop with a Sheriff has purchased more than $35,000 worth of needed items and toys for Fayette County children.

“The community really does come out and does right by these folks,” Shelton said.