HANCOCK COUNTY — With the holiday season fast approaching, members of local law enforcement are preparing for annual outreach programs to benefit children in need across the county.

Organizers from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Greenfield and Fortville police departments will again take dozens of the county’s underprivileged kids shopping for Christmas presents next month, and fundraising and application efforts are underway.

Officers say the gift-giving is an opportunity for them to give back to the community in a different way and forging positive relationships with those they protect.

The sheriff’s department hopes to help at least 30 kids with the Shop with a Deputy campaign, which pairs a child with an officer for a shopping spree at the Greenfield Walmart. Coordinator Amy West said the department hopes to raise at least $300 per child to make the trip truly worthwhile. Last year, the department helped 38 youngsters with the money raised.

Shop with a Deputy is open to children 18 and under whose parents have proven financial need, West said. Only one application will be accepted per family, and the department can’t guarantee assistance to all those who apply. Priority will be given to first-time applicants. Applications can be picked up at the sheriff’s department, 123 E. Main St., and are due by Friday.

Shopping will take place Dec. 5, when deputies will help kids pick out clothes, toys, books, movies and whatever else the child might need, Sheriff Mike Shepherd said.

Deputies look forward to the shopping spree each year, he said, and many bring along their families to help make the event as fun for kids as possible.

It’s a similar story at the Greenfield Police Department, where officers are looking for families with 2- to 16-year-olds living in city limits to apply for the Cops-4-Kids program.

Each Cops-4-Kids event starts off with a ride in a patrol car to the McDonald’s in Greenfield, where the participating youngsters share a free breakfast with police, organizer Dana Nance said. Then the kids are taken to the local Walmart to spend about $300 on whatever they might want or need, she said.

The department hopes to help about 35 children this year, and roughly 20 officers have agreed to help with the shopping trip on Dec. 6, Nance said.

Greenfield Chief John Jester said the program is something he looks forward to every year because it allows officers to step in and fill a void, to give children something they might not otherwise receive.

Parents can stop by the police department, 116 S. State St., to pick up an application. The forms are due by Nov. 23, Nance said.

The shopping event hosted each year by the Fortville Police Department sticks to a schedule similar to Greenfield’s, Fortville Chief Bill Knauer said.

This year, the Fortville’s event is slated for Dec. 12. The town’s officers take kids to a local McDonald’s for a bite to eat and visit with Santa Claus before shopping begins.

The department partners with the Mt. Vernon School Corp. and local nonprofits to find Fortville children in need. Last year, about 30 families were helped, Knauer said.

But the number of children who are able to participate in each department’s program is based on the amount of donations received from the public, organizers say.

Each department is seeking contributions in order to make the shopping sprees a reality. Donations should be sent to each department before Dec. 1.

Get involved

Each year, local law enforcement take children in need on a holiday shopping spree with the help of community donations.

Donations can be sent to each department at the following addresses before Dec. 1:

  • Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, 123 E. Main St.; call 317-477-1147 with questions.
  • Greenfield Police Department, 116 S. State St; call 317-477-4410 with questions.
  • Fortville Police Department at the Fortville Town Hall, 714 E. Broadway St.; call 317-485-4044 with questions.
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.