By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
What do Twinkies, needy children, and Christmas have in common?
For Laurel Countians, the three came together unexpectedly last weekend, resulting in more than $15,000 being raised for the annual Shop with a Cop effort.
Recent closings of Hostess bakery stores in the Laurel area sent the public into a panic that a long-time snack favorite — Twinkies — would be a thing of the past.
That’s when local businessman, Larry Parrott of Parrott’s Auto Mart, offered to auction off a pack of the popular sweet snack to generate funds for the Shop with a Cop program.
“We put it on Facebook and it just went from there,” said Laurel County Sheriff John Root.
The Twinkies eventually sold for $500 to Mountain Valley Insurance Company, Root said. But in the meantime, other people jumped on the bandwagon and began making donations directly to the Shop with a Cop program.
“We had a lot of people who just made donations. They ran from $1,000 to $10,” Root added. “The hospital staff had the largest donation of $2,000. The physicians donated $1,000 and two other employees donated $500 each.”
Some donations were made in memory of fallen police officers, Root said, and others just gave willingly from the heart.
“We had a $10 donation from a little boy who gave his birthday money. People really opened their hearts and some of the people who made donations really don’t have it to spare,” Root said. “It is hard economic times. A lot of people have lost their jobs, gas is high, food is high, and people are having it rough. But that’s one thing I can say about Laurel County. People are always willing to give.”
Those donations will boost the number of children being helped at this year’s Shop with a Cop on Saturday, December 15 from the normal 100 participants to more than 350.
“We (Shop with a Cop program) already had a little money that was going to be used for the kids. But when this was posted on Facebook, everyone started making donations. I would have been tickled to have gotten $5,000. To nearly triple the number of kids you can take shopping is more than I expected,” Root added. “There may be even more than that. That $15,000 is just what has come through the sheriff’s office.”
The Shop with a Cop program allots $100 per child with $70 going toward clothing and $30 for toys. The children selected for the program are referred by the school youth and family resource centers and their officers.
“We hope it gets bigger and bigger every year,” Root said. “We know there are a lot of children out there who don’t get much for Christmas, and this makes Christmas special to them.”
To make contributions, contact the London City Police Department at 878-7004, Kentucky State Police at 878-6622, or Laurel Sheriff’s Office at 864-6600.