JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Shop With A Cop program helps kids in need buy Christmas gifts for their families. It’s a program that takes all year to plan, and is entirely donation-based.
A few hundred kids participate in the program, but Community Hero Johnson City Officer Brittney Eberhardt, says more are out there, and she’s determined to help them.
“If we don’t raise the money we can’t take the kids shopping. We can’t take care of them,” Officer Eberhardt says.
Eberhardt constantly thinks of how she can help more kids. She’s in charge of the Johnson City Shop With A Cop, and the Home Run Derby that raises money so more kids can get involved in the program. She says it’s a team effort.
“We really rely on the teachers and the counselors,” she says. “They know which families are struggling and who need it the most. And so we rely heavily on them to decide.”
It’s a lot of work to plan both events. But, she knows the end result is worth it.
“It’s a lot of work. You get to the point sometimes where you’re like, ‘Man, I’m just tired’,” she says. “And then, the big night, the big Shop With A Cop event, we get finished with it, and you realize why you’re doing this. They are so excited. They are so happy. It’s such a positive relationship between the kids and the officers, and that’s really what we want to foster, is that positive.”
That positive is returned in stories from children who shop.
“We had a little boy and he refused to spend anything on himself,” she remembers. “We could not make him go to the toy aisle and pick up anything. Everything single thing that he got, he spent to buy gifts for his family members and his siblings. We took him back through and told him he had to get something for himself. He was so selfless. You just don’t see that that often.”
Those stories keep Eberhardt working every year to help more kids.
“We don’t want any kids to be left out,” she says. “We don’t want children with families who are struggling to not be able to participate and be with everybody else that’s their own age.”