Jacquisha Sims and her two daughters — Mariana, 4, and Makeinzy, 10 — had waited for four years to be a part of Shop with a Cop, and on Dec. 4, their wish came true. 

“I’m a single mom and I work two jobs,” Sims said. “For me and my children to have this means a lot. I have my own business, too, and try to do what I can for my kids.” 

The Laurel Fraternal Order of Police gave 32 children a Christmas shopping spree at Walmart as part of its Shop with a Cop program at Walmart in Laurel. Members of the FOP, Jones County Sheriff’s Department and Laurel Police Department paired up with families and helped them pick Christmas gifts with a stipend to spend inside Walmart. 

The FOP has participated in Shop with a Cop for more than two decades and raises funds for the event annually. Children involved in the program were referred to the FOP through officers for the event, said Layne Bounds of the FOP and an investigator with the State Auditor’s Office. 

“We try to keep the age range of children between 3 to 12 years old and whose families may have been in incidences throughout the year,” Bounds said. “We’ve had a pretty successful year.” 

Through the FOP’s fundraisers, which include a skeet shoot, golf-ball drop and Mardi Gras parade, and corporate sponsors, it was able to increase the number of children who participated from 20 to 32. 

COVID affected the FOP’s ability to shop with the children in recent years, but this year, members were able to return to the store with them for Shop with a Cop, Bounds said. Having that interaction with the children is integral to the program, he said. 

“Unfortunately, when they may interact with police, it’s usually not a good moment in their lives,” Bounds said. “This is a way to show them we are here to help and they can come to us if they need us.” 

Denise Walley and her daughter Josie Walley, 8, shopped with Sgt. Lance Williams of the JCSD. Walley said her daughter was so excited and that she had never been a part of a program like this before. 

“She’s been looking forward to this and it’s exciting for me, too,” Walley said.

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