Shop with a Cop program supplies presents

PHILIPPI – It was a standoff between cops and firefighters on the Philip Barbour High School basketball court Saturday as the two volunteer teams shot hoops to earn enough money to send at least one student from every county school shopping with a cop this year.

“It’s something good for the community, anybody that needs help,” volunteer firefighter Jewel Short of the Belington Volunteer Fire Department said. “I love getting to do stuff like this.”

By only one point, the firefighters won 57-56, and were in the lead for most of the game.

The Shop with a Cop program was initiated and organized by the Belington Police Department. Belington Police Chief D.J. Harris said the total amount of money raised through admission fees and concessions sales was not available immediately after the game.

“We spend about $100 per child; we’re going to take as many kids as we can,” Harris said. “We want to be more community-oriented. We want the kids in the community to see us as their friends and not as a scare. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

Harris said $1,000 had already been raised prior to the game through individual and business donations. He said that there are nine county schools and he hopes to choose at least one student from each of the schools. These children are chosen based on need or academic excellence.

Sgt. Josh Hymes of the Belington Police Department noted the impact this program has had on children in the past who were chosen to shop with a cop.

“It was just a joy to them,” Hymes said. “They were excited. They were screaming they want this toy and then when you picked it up and got them that toy it was unexplainable, the expression on their faces.”

Harris noted much of the same in the reactions of the chosen children. He said he wants to try to keep this program going annually.

“(It was) very heartwarming, a joy,” Harris added. “That makes our day-to-day headache and duty with a lot of the negativity we deal with on a daily basis – it makes all that worthwhile when we get to see the joy to have this on these kids’ faces.”

For the first time this year, the program went countywide, opening up to participation from not only the Belington Police Department, but also the Belington Volunteer Fire Department, West Virginia State Police, Philippi Police Department, Junior Police Department, Philippi Volunteer Fire Department and Junior Volunteer Fire Department.

Harris said he wants to thank everyone who supported this program by noting food, money or time.

“It’s a good thing to help the kids,” Hymes said. “Not only do they see us at our worst, but they can see us at our best.”

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