If you were driving by the Target Store in Wesley Chapel this morning between 7:30 and 10:00 you may have thought there had been a major crime spree. That wasn’t the case at all. Thirty-five children from around Union County, NC came out to do a little shopping with Union County’s finest in law enforcement. Representatives from the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Union County Sheriff’s Department, Monroe Police Department and Stallings Police Department showed up bright and early to help put smiles on the faces of local children whose families may be having a hard time this year due to the struggling economy.
This is an annual event sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police in Union County. The children were each allowed $100 to purchase clothing and toys for themselves. No more than 50% of the money could be used for toys and the rest was to be used for essential clothing such as a coat, sock and gloves. Some of the children selected bikes for themselves while others choose to use some of their money to buy gifts for siblings or parents.
Ralph Peppers, President of the Union County Fraternal Order of Police and Margaret Derenge (AKA Mrs. Claus), Secretary Treasurer were the driving forces behind this event. The experience and love for this project was evident throughout the morning. Mrs. Claus was scurrying all over the Wesley Chapel Target Store making sure everyone was taken care of and had just what they needed to make this Christmas a little bit brighter than it would have been.
Sheriff Eddie Cathey of Union County came out to support his deputies as they sped off through the store with their buggies selecting just the right things for the child they were shopping with. The law enforcement volunteers clearly enjoyed this as much as the children and each seemed to form a special bond while shopping together.
“Target Stores nationwide support our local communities. We would love to permanently host this wonderful Union County event. The smiles we saw on the children’s faces this morning were absolutely priceless”.
- Korey Tango, Executive Team Leader of Human Resources for Target
Target regularly contributes to the local communities they are a part of. The Wesley Chapel Target Store donated $500 to the Union County Christmas Bureau as part of this project as well as bringing in extra team members to assure everything ran smoothly.
If you would like to donate to the “Shop With A Cop” program, mail your donation to F.O.P., 1103 Memory Lane, Monroe, NC 28112.
We all know what Santa is up to this time of year, few know how busy Mrs. Claus is. At the start of this event Mrs. Claus stood on a chair in the Starbucks at the front of the store and commanded the attention of all of the law enforcement individuals taking part in this event. She explained how this was going to work, what they were to do and how to do it. So thank you Mrs. Claus, because you are right up there with Santa! Thanks to everyone that donated to the F.O.P. for allowing this event continue on.
Contributing Photojournalist – Lorayn DeLuca