HANCOCK COUNTY — The small child was sitting in the front of a grocery cart with a toy in his hand while his slightly older brother was walking around with a Sheriff’s flashlight, shining it at anyone who got close enough.

Hancock County Sheriff Brad Burkhart was keeping and eye on the two young kids with the help of the department’s therapy dog, Fogo, while his wife, Renee Burkhart, was busy trying to get all the gifts on the Christmas list for the two young boys.

The Sheriff, his administrative staff, several deputies and some Indiana State Police (ISP) troopers took dozens of area children on a Christmas shopping spree Saturday at Walmart as part of the department’s annual Shop with a Deputy event.

“This is pretty special to come out here and meet some kids, and we get the chance to socialize,” the Sheriff said. “These two boys right here, they are a couple of characters and they really like Fogo. One of these boys, the one with the flashlight, he wants to be a policeman some day.”

Sheriff’s administrative assistant, Penney Weiler, organizes the event each year, which has been supported through the Rotary of Greenfield bell ringers for the past 20 years.

“Our funds all come from donations which fluctuate from year to year, so we are always looking for new partners to fill the gaps,” Weiler said. “We have some other individuals and business who also contribute quietly every year that includes the Schakel Center, Bolts & Nuts of Hancock County, Burkhart Farms, Tri Kappa Upsilon, RHO Chapter and even a couple of churches help out from time to time.”

The law enforcement officials met with the families who had signed up for holiday assistance. The families were then paired with a law enforcement official who helped the kid or children get items they needed, but also a few toys.

“We’re helping 13 different families and we’ve got a total of 34 kids,” Weiler said. “We’ve got some good shoppers here.”

Captain Robert Harris and his wife, Andrea Harris, were working with a young Greenfield student who loves sports and picked out a football and a basketball as part of his Christmas presents.

“For me, I absolutely love this,” Robert said. “It’s my most favorite time of the year doing this with the kids.”

Deputy Jordan Taylor and his wife, Spenser Taylor, had a couple of carts filled with princess toys for two sisters they were shopping with. The couple has a 14-month-old baby and said they enjoyed watching the elementary-aged kids in need get their Christmas wishes fulfilled.

“Something like this is awesome,” Jordan said. “We both love kids and, for me, I love helping kids in need.”

Jordan noted when law enforcement goes on calls, specifically during the holidays, he always tries to interact with the children and make them feel safe.

“This is good for the kids and for us and the community,” Spenser said.

Deputy Wes Stegman was shopping with a young male who wasn’t real thrilled with getting a toy, but did want a new computer tablet.

“We searched the toy section, but he had his heart set on the tablet, so I called his mom and she said it was OK, so if mom is happy, and he is happy, then I’m happy,” Stegman said. “I got hired in 2012 and I have not missed a year of doing this as my wife and I both love it, the giving, you’ve got to have a servants heart to be an officer.”

While most of the children shopping were younger kids, Major Bobby Campbell did some shopping with a local teenager whose family just moved into the area and needed a little assistance this Christmas.

“He’s a well spoken young man,” Campbell said. “The kids they really enjoy this getting to go and pick out things they really need, and we get to talk with and get to know the kids and that’s all part of our community connections.”

An ISP Trooper who is also a county resident, Kyle Hankins and his wife, Erin Hankins, shopped with an elementary-aged girl and helped her pick out a new winter coat, hat and gloves as well as several princess presents.

“This little girl has really good taste,” Erin said, causing the little girl to smile. “We’ve had a really good time.”

The couple have two older children and said they enjoyed getting back into the spirit of helping a small child pick out Christmas gifts.

“She came focused and knew what she wanted,” Kyle said with a laugh. “It’s such a great time with the kids, and we love coming here, seeing the excitement in their eyes, and this is a great service to the community.”

Hankins, like the other officers, noted they want children to know law enforcement officials are here to help. The kindness is something officials hope the children will remember as they get older.

“We want to start these kids off young so that they know, with all that is going on in this world, they can trust an officer,” Kyle said. “The kids love this, but we really, really love this.”

It was the same feeling for many of the deputies who gave up their Saturday morning to help the kids. In addition to dog Fogo being on hand, deputy Scott Chapman, a K-9 handler, had his dog Spike at the store.

“We’re having a good morning,” Chapman said.

The two were surrounded by other deputy shoppers, kids and every day shoppers who just wanted to meet Spike.

All the children got to meet Santa and received a keepsake photo with him as well as a photo with the law enforcement official and family member they shopped with. The annual Shop with a Deputy event was just one of several throughout the county this past weekend as officials from the Greenfield Police Department also had their annual Cops-4-Kids event Sunday at Walmart.