HPD brings Christmas cheer to local children
Christmas came early for eight local children Dec. 23, as the Hartselle Police Department hosted Shop With A Cop at Walmart in Hartselle.
The children met officers at the Hartselle Police Department about 9 a.m. and were driven in patrol cars to the store, where each was given $175 to spend inside. Afterward, the officers and children enjoyed pizza and gift-wrapping at the department’s training facility.
Police Chief Justin Barley said the event came together relatively quickly once a plan was made.
“Everything happened pretty fast,” Barley said. “We wanted to do something, but time got away from us, and I was a little worried about how we would fund it. Phil Robertson contacted me last week and let me know they had some money we could use if we needed it, and I jumped on it.”
Robertson, manager of Woodmen Life in Hartselle, donated $1,000 for the event. Hartselle’s Citizens Police Academy and Hartselle Kiwanis also donated, $400 and $100 respectively. Pizza Hut provided food and Walmart management and staff helped with logistics once the shoppers arrived.
“When I talked with Justin, I told him we could help take care of funding,” Robertson said. “I wanted him to know we could make it happen. This is one of our common bond events, which focus on helping families and the community. There are 26 Woodmen chapters in north Alabama, and at least six others in our region are doing some form of Shop With a Cop.”
Barley said the participants were selected with help from officials at local elementary schools, Hartselle Intermediate School and the Hartselle Housing Authority. The children shopped for everything from snacks to clothes to toys and sporting goods.
Officer Zeke Eubanks accompanied Storm Partain through the store in search of hunting supplies and electronics, while Jordaan, 8, shopped for cars and LEGOs.
“We’re really happy to be here with the kids,” Barley said. “Phil and the Citizens Police Academy and everyone who was willing to kick in the resources to make this happen are just great.”
It wasn’t just a treat for the children, though.
“I think the officers are having just as much fun as the kids,” Barley said. “Some of them might be more excited than some of the kids.”
The event capped a busy year for Barley, who was named chief in January after Ron Puckett was elected to serve as Morgan County sheriff.
“The year has flown by,” Barley said. “I’m really happy we’re able to end it on a high note, though. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would go today, but I think it’s really gone well, and the kids look happy. That’s what it’s all about.”