The Valdosta Daily Times
Twenty-five kids and their parents filed into the Valdosta Police Department lobby Monday evening for the Ninth Annual Shop with a Cop program.
Valdosta Police Officer Vernotis Williams, event organizer, brimmed with joy as he helped each child find the assigned officer for the evening.
“Every year this grows with more and more people,” says Williams.
Organizations involved in this year's event included Valdosta Police Department, Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, Georgia State Patrol, Moody Air Force Base, Department of Motor Safety, Remerton Police Department, Echols County Sheriff's Office , and Valdosta State University police. Through the efforts of many local businesses doing fundraisers, 26 gift cards with $252 a piece were distributed to the 25 kids. The extra gift card is for a lucky child who merely takes the time to say hello to the police officers in Walmart.
Upon entering Wal-Mart on Inner Perimeter Road, the officers sped off with their children. These youngsters excitedly ran around the store to spend the money given to them. The toy department was the favorite spot for most of these kids and they looked at everything from bicycles to Barbies. A couple of the participating businesses and organizations attended the event to see the joy it brought to these children.
One of the the groups was the Slip-N-Slide Ryders, a local motorcycle club. This year was the first year helping with Shop with a Cop and all eight present members agreed it would not be the last.
Helping out for its fourth year was Valdosta Street Sweepers. Wally Moore said that while his club raises a lot of money through car shows and car washes, Officer Williams is truly the man to be recognized for the Shop with a Cop event.
“He worked hard out there with those car washes, too,” says Moore.
During the event, a young man and his sister walked up to Williams to shake his hand, which led them to be the lucky recipients of the extra gift card. Brandon Willis, 12, and his sister, Katie Spell, 8, were awestruck to be the lucky winners and couldn't wait to tell their mother, Maria Willis, as she was checking out. The kids happily ran off toward the toys and video games.
The night concluded with a pizza party held for the kids and their families courtesy of Pizza Hut on North Ashley and Pizza Hut on Northside.
"I really am just appreciative of everyone who helps this event through their donations,” says Williams.