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HILLVIEW - Kentucky State Police troopers are sworn to serve and protect all Kentuckians.
When it comes to children, the troopers do their best to serve and protect the Christmas holiday.
Over 90 area children received assistance by KSP troopers and employees during the annual Shop with a Cop program hosted by Wal-Mart in Hillview and Leitchfield. About 40 children were escorted by troopers to Hillview Wal-Mart to peruse the shelves with KSP assistance.
Each child received $150 to purchase Christmas gifts, starting with necessities such as new clothes and shoes, and wrapping up with a couple of toys and other fun items.
The children were later invited to a pizza party hosted by the Zoneton Fire Department.
Trooper Jeff Jenkins has participated with the program for six years, understanding the importance of assisting the children and their families.
“I was not the most fortunate child growing up but I had what I needed,” said Jenkins. “We’re here to help the kids without basic needs.”
The children are encouraged to create wish lists, though troopers first focus on necessities.
“The first thing we try to fulfill is clothing needs,” Jenkins said. “We also encourage buying less expensive items so they can get more.”
Jenkins mentioned many children ask to purchase a gift for their parents with their allotted funds.
“That’s always very nice,” he added.
Jenkins shopped with William Wolf, a 10-year-old Bullitt County resident with a wish list including Nerf and WWE Flex toys.
William’s twin sister, Victoria, was assisted by CVE Nick Pruitt and his wife, Brittany. They made sure to buy Victoria a new pair of running shoes.
A Bullitt County middle school student attended the event to assist a Kindergarten student with his shopping.
Courtney Johns, an eighth grader from Bernheim Middle, joined her uncle, Trooper Eric Hines, in shopping for six-year-old Billy Taylor. Johns and Taylor attend the same church, Victory Baptist, in Clermont.
Hines said Taylor was the lone representative of four siblings, the others ages eight, five and one. Hines received clothing size information for all the children from Victory Baptist pastor Tony Stamps.
The church was also collecting food items for Billy’s family.
“It’s all about building a positive experience for the child,” Hines said of the program. “We want them to avoid having a negative view of the police.”
Hines said having Johns assist offered a “really good experience” for his niece. She was happy to help Billy’s family enjoy this year’s Christmas festivities.
“I like the kids,” she said. “For them to have a good Christmas is a really good thing.”
Among Billy’s first purchases was a pair of Spongebob Squarepants pajamas and a sturdy winter coat.
Bullitt County resident Pat Simpson was shopping at Wal-Mart when she noticed what the troopers were doing. She stopped Hines to personally thank him for his efforts.
“This is a good thing you’re doing,” said Simpson. “I was adopted and when I was young we got in a bus and went to the Brown Hotel (in Louisville). I was too little to remember who bought us gifts, but somebody thought to do that, so I wanted to thank you.”