This is the first time Euharlee Baptist Church has hosted a benefit for Shop With A Hero.
Pastor Bradley Baker said, “We understand and respect what these guys are doing. We wanted to come alongside them and help.”
The church received donations before dinner and another offering after the concert. After the first donations were counted the church had raised $400, with the night’s total reaching more than $900.
Shop With A Hero is an annual event that pairs less fortunate children with public safety officers for a Christmas shopping trip. Last year 318 children, chosen by school counselors and teachers, were allotted $150 each to spend at Wal-Mart. The program requires $100 to be spent on clothing but the child can spend the remainder of the money however he or she chooses.
Each year the event has grown in size and donations; in 2012 the program — formerly called Shop With A Cop — drew $62,000 in donations. In comparison, 88 children were invited to attend and $13,000 was raised during the 2011 holiday season.
Euharlee Police Chief Terry Harget has been involved in the program for the past few years.
“It is an amazing day. It is great to see the expression and joy in the kids’ eyes. I remember the atmosphere last year while we were in the store; everyone was smiling and polite. It was a wonderful Christmas atmosphere,” he said.
The plans for this year include inviting 300 children to breakfast at the Clarence Brown Conference Center and then shopping at Wal-Mart. To meet the needs of the program, the goal for this year’s fundraising is $50,000; so far around $40,000 has been raised.
Donations will be accepted through November and the shopping day is set for Dec. 14. For more information regarding donations, visit the Shop With A Hero website, www.shopwithahero.net.