Thursday, 20 December 2018 19:58

Rockingham cops help kids pick presents

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Sgt. Lee Bailey holds 5-year-old Diamond Lemon as she looks at one the presents she picked out during the Rockingham Police Department's annual Shop-With-A-Cop program. Sgt. Lee Bailey holds 5-year-old Diamond Lemon as she looks at one the presents she picked out during the Rockingham Police Department's annual Shop-With-A-Cop program. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — After spending time Christmas shopping with Sgt. Lee Bailey on Thursday, Diamond Lemon reached out to be picked up and wrapped her arms around his neck.

The 5-year-old was one of seven kids teamed up with Rockingham Police officers for the department’s annual Shop-With-A-Cop program.


Chief Billy Kelly gave the green light for the program four years ago when approached by Officer Jan Owens, who has been in charge of writing the grant applications and organizing it.

“She’s truly amazing at what she does,” Kelly said.

According to the chief, this year’s program was funded through a grant from the Rockingham Rotary, a donation from Cascades and a donation from Alanna Young in memory of former officer Donavan Young, who died Dec. 17.

“She felt this was a program that he would really enjoy and she wanted to help the police department to help put a smile on these children’s faces,” Kelly said.

The afternoon’s events started with a trip to Dairy Queen for ice cream before heading over to Walmart to fill up the baskets.

“Each child has $200 gift cards,” Kelly said. “We try to work on getting them to purchase gifts for their families first and then themselves.

The chief walked around with 7-year-old Jace Mathis and they, along with the others, were joined by a Walmart associate to keep track of the total.

Kyris Terry, 7, went to the toy department with Capt. Richard Greene and got presents for his brothers and sister, as well as something for his mom, Tamela Brown, who thanked the department and called Shop-With-A-Cop a “wonderful program.”

“It gives a chance for the kids who won’t have a good Christmas to get what they want,” she said. “Hopefully one day I can help out.”

Owens was teamed up with 10-year-old Destiny Knight, who picked out hoodies, a toy dragon, a few bits of candy and art supplies, among other things.

Knight said she enjoys drawing.

“I mostly draw characters … off of my favorite games or shows,” she said. “Or I’ll draw my own characters and give it to someone.”

Other cop-kid pairings included: Detective Lt. George Gillenwater with 10-year-old Elijah Shaw; Sgt. Marcus Ricks with 7-year-old Maurice Lemon; and Officer Josh Leviner with 8-year-old Danny Cole.

Maj. Eddie Grant and Detective Larry Tunstall also helped out.