From staff reports
Parents from all over Marshall County will have an opportunity Saturday to take their youngsters to Lewisburg's Rock Creek Park for a remarkably well-guarded playtime.
Cops for Kids, an annual fundraiser for the Christmas shopping trip for nearly 150 school-age children, will have a bungee jump station, a rock wall to climb and inflatable playgrounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A modest entry fee also buys lunch and helps pay for the Christmas program, but there are live and silent auctions at 2:30 p.m. to raise more money through the sale of a guitar, poster, basketball and other items autographed by Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Dick Vitale, Carrie Underwood and Titans Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Kenny Britt, Cortland Finegan and Michael Griffin.
Last winter, the Lewisburg Police-sponsored Cops for Kids shopping spree allocated $15,000 for 150 children who spent $100 each to improve Christmas time for underprivileged children who are recommended by school counselors.
"We've been doing it for as long as I can remember," said City Police Capt. Rebekah Mitchell who accepted the responsibility of organizing the annual event nearly seven years ago.
At that time, 30 children were provided $75 each for their Christmas shopping trip, Mitchell said. When Chuck Forbis became police chief, she approached him about the program.
"It was when the economy started going down hill," she said. "We wanted to expand Cops for Kids, to do more and that led to this fundraiser. Our goal was to make it a family event and the kids really do have a blast."
The program grew from 30 to 100 and has reached 150 children participating and Mitchell says that may be the limit on the number of children who can be taken to a store.
"More than that would be hard to manage," she said.
However, each year, the officers and volunteers who take the children shopping realize the school-age children are buying things for younger siblings.
"We do shop for younger children," Mitchell said.
Limiting the shopping trip to school-age children is apparently a result of the recommendations from school counselors and while the Cops for Kids program does have "a lot of volunteers," Mitchell noted other community groups do substantially the same thing. She named the Elks, Lions and the Angel Tree program. Meanwhile, the Junior Auxiliary "always provides volunteers for the fundraiser," as do Marshall County High School students.
"It's a community effort," the captain said. "Without the community support this would not be possible."