By Jim Newell
It was an evening of heroes and happiness for kids during Shop with a Hero event Thursday at the Oxford Meijer.
And Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies and Orion Township lived up to that moniker, taking children whose families who are experiencing financial hardship shopping for gifts for the holidays.
Deputy Sheri Will of the Orion Twp. Substation has participated in Shop with a Hero for several years now and enjoys it every year.
“Just spending time with the little kids is amazing. Like the three kids I had tonight, I met them at Halloween so I was saying that I was shopping with my heroes because they were dressed as Spiderman, Flash and Minnie,” Will said. “Just spending time with them and watching them go around so excited…because they don’t get to do something like this very often.”
Each child gets $150 gift card to purchase items for themselves and can pick out gifts for their siblings or parents.
Carolann’s daughter, Megan, went shopping with Orion Township Firefighter/EMT Charles Thompson II.
“They helped my family and I really appreciate it more than anything. They’re amazing people. Just look at the smile on her face. She’s happy right now and that makes me happy,” Carolann said.
Before heading out into the store to shop, kids were treated to a meal donated by 24th Street Tavern in downtown Oxford.
And while for some of the first responders it was their first Shop with a Hero, many return each year to spend time with the kids, share the holiday spirit and connect on a personal level with youth, so that they see the firefighters and deputies as more than just authorities.
“It’s an amazing evening to spend with the kids because they’re so appreciative, they’re so happy,” Will said. “They want to shop for everyone else beside themselves and you have to say, ‘Get yourself something, too.’”
The Shop with a Hero event started in 2007. Each agency gets two $150 gift cards provided by Meijer. If agencies bring more than two kids, they are responsible for providing the funds for the extra children.
Firefighters from Orion, Oxford, Brandon and Addison townships and police from the Village of Oxford and the deputies from the Orion, Oxford, Oakland, Addison and Brandon township substations and the Oxford/Addison Youth Assistance participated in Shop with a Hero.
For more photos see Dec. 11 issue of The Lake Orion Review.