Shop with a Cop delights over 40 local children

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
Okeechobee Police Department Officer Jessica Francis and K-9 Luna are pictured with Skyy, one of this year’s shoppers.

OKEECHBOEE — On Saturday, Dec. 21, 15 families with a total of 37 children met at Walmart for their chance to shop with a cop. Last week there were 16 families and more than 40 children.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
OCSO Lt. Randy Thomas is helping Isreyez to pick out a toy. “Take your time, buddy,” he said. “We have all the time you need.”

According to Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Hazellief, they have shopped with over 1,000 children since they first began the program. Shop with a Cop is sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police, and all the law enforcement officers who participate are volunteering their time.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
City police Detective Bill Saum poses with sisters Maria (left) and Silvia.

Public Information Officer Michele Bell even came out during her vacation. “I couldn’t miss this,” she said. Local businesses and citizens contribute by donating to the fundraisers held throughout the year. The biggest one is the Fourth of July celebration. Every child was given $100 with which to shop.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
OCSO PIO Michele Bell (right) and the OCSO’s Denise Sikorsky give Santa their wish list while the kids finish shopping.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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