LOWVILLE It will not be a cause for alarm if firetrucks and police cars swarm the Lowville Walmart on Saturday.
The fifth annual Lewis County Shop with a Cop event will kick off at 10 a.m. with a parade of law enforcement and rescue vehicles through the parking lot, sirens blaring. The event gives about 25 children from throughout the county the opportunity to shop the store for whatever they like using a $150 gift certificate. Each child is accompanied by a law enforcement or emergency response agency member.
Some are done in five minutes and others are done in an hour. Well also be going to the Lowville Fire Hall to have some pizza from Vinnys Pizzeria in Croghan, said Lewis County Sheriffs Department Sgt. Eric Schmitt, head of the program.
The program is supported by community donations or, in some cases, by officers themselves. All county police agencies, major fire departments, state Department of Environmental Conservation officers, forest rangers and members of Lewis County Search and Rescue are expected to have representatives participate. Children participating in the program are selected through the suggestion of area schools, the Department of Social Services and officers individual experiences.
Its getting bigger. More and more people know about it, Mr. Schmitt said. We try to reach people falling through the cracks losing their jobs or illnesses in the family thats preventing them from being able to provide for kids at Christmas.
The program started with about 12 children in 2008. Mr. Schmitt estimated popular items will be remote-control cars, video games and even clothing.
Its pretty neat when they break it down, go for mittens, hats and coats, he said, adding that the officers enjoy themselves as much as the children.
Its a nice, old-fashioned area. People generally look out for each other, and its nice to give back to the community, Sgt. Schmitt said.
Parents will be able to pick up their children from the Fire Hall, 5420 Parkway, by 11 a.m.