Shortly after that announcement was made, community law enforcement personnel stepped in to fill the need. Local law enforcement joined efforts with Wal-mart in mid November to try to pull together the Shop With a Cop program.
Over $14,000 was raised, and on Wednesday, December 18, local law enforcement, volunteers and 147 children gathered in the cafeteria at Macon County High School.
Representatives from the Lafayette Police Department, the Red Boiling Springs Police Department, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Macon County Sheriff's Department, along with local residents joined efforts to make the night memorable for the participants.
Before pairing the children with chaperones, the youngsters were treated to supper and to a visit from Santa Claus.
As the time for departure approached and the students began to load the tour buses with their chaperones, the excitement could be felt in the air.
"To see the kids faces light up that makes my Christmas," David Boner, assistant manager at Wal-mart said. "The way they reacted, that's what we did it for."
"From at least two individuals who gave $500 checks each to the junior high student who took the pennies out of his piggy bank and sent in $8, people really opened their hearts and their purses," Macon County Sheriff Joe Ferguson stated.
"I believe it wouldn't have gone as great as it did without their help. A gentleman came by in early spring and asked to do some yard sales and donate a percentage of the sales to a Shop with a a Cop Christmas program. I knew there were always a few that came up after the other programs were held who didn't get to go shopping or they would have very little for Christmas without help. I thought we could do this and we could get those children. Then we found out that Santa's Express would not be held and our plans changed. "
"It was overwhelming how the people in the community helped us," Sheriff Ferguson concluded.
"We feel it was a success," a representative from the Lafayette Police Department said. "We are looking forward to next year. We really appreciate all the help the community gave and all the donations for the children and the chaperones that showed up. We couldn't have done it without everyone's help."
"It was a very rewarding experience," Red Boiling Springs Chief of Police Terry Tuck said. "We really appreciated all the donations. The turnout of the chaperones was great. All the departments worked together well and the community support was great."
Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. Vic Donoho stated, "We were glad to be included and to be able to participate. It was very rewarding to see the children with their chaperones. All the troopers involved expressed appreciation for being invovled in the project and enjoyed the night."
Tentative plans are already being discussed for next year's Shop With a Cop event.