The three of them, along with the brothers’ mother, Tonya, and Lt. Mack Boudreau, the SRO for Greenwood County School District 52, were among a handful of middle school students and law enforcement officers who gathered at Walmart at 508 Bypass 72 NW on Friday morning for the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office’s annual Shop With a Cop event.
Each year, the Sheriff’s Office contacts the county’s three school districts to identify children of families in need, Capt. Amy Tyler said. Law enforcement officers are given a Walmart gift card and paired with the children for an all-you-can-buy shopping bonanza. This year, each card was loaded with $200.
Lt. Scott Russ, who has organized the event for the past several years, said the sheriff’s office contacted more law enforcement agencies than it ever had, inviting officers from the Greenwood, Ware Shoals, Ninety Six and Lander police departments; the Highway Patrol; and the Department of Natural Resources.
Justin Sutherland, the community relations officer for Highway Patrol Troop 2, said he accepted the invitation because he liked the opportunity to get involved in the community.
In years past, Russ would solicit donations from the community to cover the event’s cost. The past couple of years, however, he has applied for a grant from Walmart. This year, Walmart contributed $2,500. Park Seed, also feeling the Christmas spirit, donated live Christmas trees for every participating family, which were distributed after the children finished their shopping runs.
“Holden’s my little shopper,” said Wendy James, whose twins, Holden and Hobie, were invited to the event. “Hobie’s easy. With Holden, we’ll be here two more hours.”
True to form, Hobie said he knew exactly what he wanted before he got there. Holden, on the other hand, did not.
“I just go with the flow,” Holden said. But he was excited when he stumbled across WWE merchandise. “I’m a huge fan of wrestling. I started this year. I don’t know why, I just got hooked.”
Wendy said Holden had thought he was to buy things for other children. When he realized he could spend all the money on himself, he was hesitant.
“He felt awkward buying only for himself,” Wendy said. “I said ‘no, that’s the whole point.’ And he still got stuff for the whole family.”