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story.lead_photo.caption COURTESY PHOTO/Deputy Kyle Hackworth takes a moment from the excitement of Shop With a Hero to offer a smiling portrait with two children selecting Christmas gifts.

Megan Davis

McDonald County Press mdavis@nwadg.com

Organizers of the annual Shop With a Hero charity said the 2018 event was successful, with more than 150 kids participating.

Shop With a Hero brings together emergency personnel and deserving children in need of a special Christmas shopping experience. On Dec. 21, law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs with departments throughout the area gathered alongside soldiers of every branch to escort the children as they selected Christmas presents for themselves and, often, loved ones, too.

Each child is allotted a certain amount of money to spend as they choose, with the exception of items such as violent movies or video games which they are not permitted to purchase.

"This year's Shop With a Hero had kids from all over the county," Sheriff Michael Hall said. "We worked with the schools to help raise money by Penny Wars, and the schools also helped choose the kids with the greatest need."

Deserving children are nominated by officials within the McDonald County and Neosho school districts, which allows the program to reach kids throughout the county. Hall said the department also accepts applications from parents that do not have children enrolled in these districts, such as those with children not yet school age, homeschooled children or children in another district. Organizers then cross check submissions with other seasonal charities to ensure the children aren't receiving assistance elsewhere.

"This year we were able to take over 150 kids shopping down to Walmart and each kid had about $90 to spend," Hall said.

"We encourage the kids to make sure that they have clothing items such as coats and other winter items and then they may spend their money on toys and other items they want or need," he noted.

The MCSO has been hosting Shop With a Hero since 2007, and organizers have seen many toy trends come and go.

"It seemed like a bunch of kids bought dinosaur stuff this year," Hall said. "Remote control cars and trucks are what I saw the most of come through."

Financial donations from generous individuals make this event possible each year.

Community on 01/10/2019

Print Headline: Children Shop With Heroes

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