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By BOB WHITE
HARDIN COUNTY – The season of helping others is here and people throughout the county are giving generously to ensure less fortunate children and families don’t feel left out by Santa.
“Now the bad guys ain’t gonna get away from the good guys,” said 9-year-old Nathan DeFrees, while showing off two identical sets of Matchbox-brand law-enforcement themed toy vehicles. “I got two cars, two helicopters and two of these, too.”
Nathan wasn’t sure how to describe the miniature S.W.A.T. unit in the package, but sure was happy he “got two of ’em.”
Nathan, his 8-year-old brother, Gabe, and 4-year old sister, Cassi, were among the 135 children who shopped with Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 40 members Thursday at the Elizabethtown Wal-Mart as part of FOP’s Shop with a Cop program.
Gabe said the best part of his shopping was getting two long-sleeved Pokémon T-shirts along with three Bakugan toys that included the popular trading cards.
The $10 toy allowance children participating in the Elizabethtown Shop-with-a-Cop program were given turned out plenty of smiles. Each child could also spend $110 on clothes while being escorted on their shopping spree by a detective, a police officer, a sheriff’s deputy, or one of many spouses and Wal-Mart employees who helped out with the effort.
Nathan was happy with the Batman glove and toboggan set he was able to take home, too. Four pairs of pants each, new socks, shoes, boots and underwear also were among the nearly-full bas-karts he and his brother and sister each wheeled out and returned home with.
“We needed pants really bad,” Nathan said. “We needed the socks, too.”
Bailiff Chuck Warren, who coordinates Lodge 40’s program, said each year the program serves more and more children. The Elizabethtown Wal-Mart contributes by waiving tax and making a donation worth thousands of dollars.
Eighteen hours earlier and about 15 miles north of Elizabethtown, a similar scene went down at the Radcliff Wal-Mart, as an eight-member custom car club, Central Kentucky Rods and Machines, used proceeds from a Thanksgiving weekend car show to buy $7,000 worth of toys and clothes to support Helping Hand of the Heartland’s seasonal efforts.
“We bought just about every bike they had,” said Bob Merchant, president of Central Kentucky Rods and Machines.
The group, which has conducted its Christmas drive for the past 29 years, also bought three sets of clothes each and toys for one Hardin County mom’s six children. The mother, too, received merchandise and a grocery gift card.
Merchant said money for the event came from donations and entry fees from its annual car show at Pritchard Community Center. The event attracted about 47 hot rods and custom cars and trucks, Merchant said.
Merchant now calls his holiday gift drive “Christmas for Kids” – a name similar to that used for Vine Grove Police Department’s Christmas for the Kids effort that aids between two and three dozen families each year.
Kentucky State Police Post 4 in Elizabethtown runs an annual Shop With A Trooper (S.W.A.T.) program that operates similar to FOP’s Shop with a Cop and helps brighten the holidays for children living within Post 4’s eight-county region.
All the organizations welcome donations.
“We have one lady who donates $1,400 each year,” Warren said.
Bob White can be
reached at (270) 505-1750.
To support any of the aforementioned groups, contact them by phone at the information below.
* FOP Lodge 40’s Shop With a Cop, contact Virgil Willoughby: (270) 765-4125 * Kentucky State Police Post 4’s S.W.A.T., contact Steve Pavey: (270) 766-5078 * Vine Grove Police Department’s Christmas for the Kids, contact Capt. Dale Riggs, Vine Grove City Hall: (270) 877-2262. * Central Kentucky Rods and Machines’ Christmas for Kids, contact Helping Hand of the Heartland: (270) 769-3092.
Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.