CHEBOYGAN — The Shop with a Hero event has been going on in Cheboygan for about two decades now.
The 2022 version of the Shop with a Hero event, which took place at the Cheboygan Walmart on Wednesday, received another strong turnout of children, who were able to shop with first responders locally and from other parts of the area.
This year, Shop with a Hero featured about 65 children, according to Cheboygan City Police Officer Ron White, who has taken charge of leading the event.
“Good turnout,” said White. “It started out years ago when it was ‘Shopping with a Cop’ and now they changed it to ‘Shopping with a Hero,’ and we were able to bring in law enforcement, fire department, paramedics, EMTs, and also military heroes, veterans.
"We’re sneaking up on about 20 years with this event that we’ve been hosting," he said. "(Former Cheboygan Department of Public Safety Director) Kurt Jones used to run it for years, and since his retirement I’ve taken over and kind of ran with it, and this year we had 65 kids, I believe. That ranges from Cheboygan County and part of Mackinac County as well, so participating agencies would be Mackinac County Sheriff’s Department, Mackinaw City Police Department, Cheboygan City Police Department, Michigan State Police, Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, Tuscarora Township, and then our local fire and ambulance services.”
A little after 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening, children started shopping for Christmas gifts with first responders, which included representatives from local police, fire and emergency medical service agencies.
As for White, he’s enjoyed being around the local event for years.
“I’ll be honest with you, it wouldn’t be possible without the donations from Walmart and others, because they’re the ones that actually make this possible financially,” White said. “We just supply the bodies to help the children do the shopping, and a lot of people don’t understand that these children aren’t just shopping for themselves. Typically, it’s for siblings and parents that they’re buying presents for.”
For the children doing the shopping, it provides them an opportunity to interact with the first responders on hand.
“That’s where it all starts, is that you communicate and interact with them at a young age — that way they get to understand you and your profession on a firsthand basis,” White said. “I certainly enjoy it every year, and it’s always been a good turnout.
“I would also like to give a shoutout to Cheboygan Area Schools. We use their resources to come up with the children that are in need of this experience.”
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Cheboygan Shop with a Hero event receives another huge turnout