During this holiday season, some local children did their shopping from the Kenosha Police Department and from police officers and firefighters in the village of Pleasant Prairie.
Last Saturday, it was the Kenosha County’s turn to play Santa Claus when school children were given the opportunity to shop with the sheriff’s deputies.
About 40 children from schools across the county and 32 representatives went to the Meijer grocery store, 7701 Green Bay Road, according to event organizer Detective Tim Hackbarth.
The annual event is in its 29th year and has been headed by Hackbarth for 13 years.
“In the first year we gave each child 50 US dollars in gifts, this year it was 350 US dollars,” said Hackbarth.
Hackbarth said one of his favorite elements of the shopping spree is keeping the total amount a secret until the kids and proxies enter the store.
“Every year I (employee) send a letter in which I say that we only have a budget of $ 100, but it always grows after that,” said Hackbarth.
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Funds come from a variety of sources, including the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, which offers gift cards for groceries and donations, as well as families and community organizations.
“I annoy my high school friends too, and they really open their wallets,” Hackbarth said.
As a thank you, Hackbarth provided each donor with a floppy disk with photos from the event.
Santa Claus on hand
The event on Saturday was supported by Santa Claus and an adult elf helper. Lincoln Middle School students who offered gift wrapping were given the opportunity to choose a gift for themselves.
Shopping with a sheriff’s deputy is a highly anticipated event for the children, Hackbarth said.
“Some children already know what they want before they enter the store,” he says. “A child drew a plan of the shop.”
The event was also a highlight for him and his colleagues, said Hackbarth.
“For me, it kind of gets me in the Christmas spirit,” he said.
Hackbarth added that he especially likes to see how the children donate with their assigned funds.
“The children think so much about others,” he said. “It’s great to see children live in their innocence, which is what Christmas is all about.”