By Dave Russell

About 93 kids brought wishlists to Walmart in Sylva last Thursday for the annual Shop with a Cop.

Each child was paired with a law enforcement officer and provided with $100 to spend on gifts for themselves and family members.

The program, now in its second decade, provides Christmas for children who might not otherwise have one. The “cops” also came from the State Bureau of Investigation, Western Carolina University, Cherokee Indian Police, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Sylva Police Department, N.C. Highway Patrol, Jackson County Emergency Services, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and other agencies in the region. Several employees of the school system helped out.

Now in its 18th year, Shop with a Cop returned to the hustle and bustle of in-person shopping after 2020 saw the event shift to the individual schools.

Sgt. Johnny Hollifield of the Sheriff’s Office is the primary driver behind the effort.

“This is something I have never had to work hard at,” he said. “This is one of the easiest things I have taken on. Once it got started it just seems like it runs itself.”

The plan called for 100 kids to participate, each identified by Jackson County Public Schools teachers and social workers as needing a little help.

“They know the needs more than anyone,” Hollifield said.

Some officers gave their charges a little boost over their $100.