Children and local LEO enjoy Fulton County Shop with a Cop
Fulton County Shop with a Cop event was held Saturday, Dec. 8 at Walmart in Ash Flat. Law enforcement officers from Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Salem Police Department, Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission volunteered their time to take children shopping for Christmas.
This is Fulton County’s second year to participate in the program. In 2016, Carolyn Lewis, Fulton County resident who is a very active volunteer in the area, saw a live feed on social media of Sharp County’s Shop with a Cop event and the rest is history. John Kunkel, Loan and Sharp County Business Development Officer with First Community Bank in Highland, was behind the live feed and when he saw Lewis’ interest in the program, he set a plan into motion.
Just a few days before Christmas that year, Kunkel, Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts and Detective Sergeant Aaron Presser met with Fulton County Sheriff Al Roork and Chief Deputy John Cawvey to present a seed fund in the amount of $3,000, in honor of Lewis. First Community Bank, Representative Scott Baltz, Senator Linda Collins-Smith, John Kunkel, Ash Flat Wal-Mart Manager Mike Alexander and North Arkansas Electric, all donated $500 to get the program started in Fulton County.
Following Saturday’s event, Sheriff Roork and Cawvey met with Areawide Media and still had smiles on their faces when it came to discussing Shop with a Cop.
“It was fantastic. The kids loved it. The deputies loved it. We had state police there, game and fish and everyone pitched in and stepped up to the plate and it was a really good time. The kids acted like they had fun and we are still getting calls from the kids saying thank you. I really enjoyed it and look forward to it next year,” said Cawvey.
There were 31 children included in this year’s event. “We had a really good group this year and spent $125 each. I really appreciate everyone who contributed. Without them, it would be impossible to do it because we spent approximately $4,000,” said Sheriff Roork. Last year, the sheriff’s office met with DHS to choose families. “We tried to pick from families who we knew were in need. Because of what we do, we know. Some of the children were from single family units; that parent might be working but not have extra money. That is what we did this year. It was a huge success and we really enjoyed it.”
Barry Abney, with the Salem Police Department, was one of the officers involved this year. On a social media post of Lewis’, Abney expressed his appreciation of the program and for those who got it going in Fulton County. “Thank you Carolyn Lewis and Albert for getting this together. Nothing makes a man’s heart melt faster than seeing the smile on a young child’s face. Thank you for allowing me the chance to do that.”
An account for Fulton County Shop with a Cop has been created at the Bank of Salem. Funds remaining after the event roll over to the next year. “I don’t deplete it all, so we have some money to start with next year. We accept donations any time,” said Sheriff Roork. Early in the week, one of his errands was to deposit additional funds into the Shop with a Cop account from money received over the weekend. “Part of that was given to me in Walmart while we were shopping. They saw what we were doing and just handed me the money.”
Donations for the event have also been received from people who aren’t Fulton County residents but support the cause and the officers who are trying to provide a positive influence in the lives of children. Fulton County Sheriff’s Office accepts donations year-round and deposits may also be made at any Bank of Salem location. Donations can also be mailed to Shop with a Cop, Post Office Box 910, Salem AR 72576.