Sheriff’s Roll Call: Gloucester County “Shop with a Cop” Program
Beginning about 15 years ago members from the GCSO Law Enforcement Division as a “Giving Back” initiative, began providing Christmas for needy families and children within Gloucester County. It was also an opportunity to showcase Law Enforcement Officers in a much different and positive light, building bridges within our community starting with our community’s children.
During those early years we were strictly funded by GCSO member donations which were collected on a monthly basis. Each year after Thanksgiving, we would select a couple of families and provide them with Christmas gifts as well as food for the holiday dinner. The community heard of our efforts and began donating and contributing to the worthy cause and soon we began holding fundraisers and eventually developing a committee to manage the very popular and needed program. Key civic and public entities from throughout the county soon became involved. Based in part on the desire to be involved in something very positive but also because our agency simply ran out of Cops to shop with the kids. This program has become a holiday staple for a very big part of our community who now identify the beginning of the Holidays and mark their calendars for the annual SWAC event.
This past year SWAC Committee raised about $30,000 in donations for our program, it was indeed a record breaking year! This is our 4th consecutive year that we raised more than $20,000.
Each year on the 2nd Saturday in December members from our office and volunteers from throughout the community take over 100 kids in need Christmas Shopping. In 2013 we were able to take more than 160 kids from over 70 different families on a very much appreciated Christmas shopping spree to our local Wal-Mart making Christmas a reality for each of these kids.
• Santa, Mrs. Clause and Santa’s helpers were on hand to help spread the Christmas spirit.
• The SWAC Committee and its volunteers provide the children with complimentary photos with Santa and Mrs. Clause.
• Volunteer clubs from Gloucester High-School provide complimentary gift wrapping.
• Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue provide aerial photos of the volunteers and clients greeting Santa and Mrs. Clause and Buddy “The Elf”.
• A bike raffle is provided compliments of Wal Mart during the event; (20) kids additionally receive a bicycle of their choosing.
This is all accomplished by the hard work and dedication of hybrid committee composed of community volunteers and Deputy Sheriffs. Through fundraising and generous donations conducted throughout the preceding year. Wal Mart is a significant partner in the event providing enormous support for fundraising and of course the shopping event.
Fundraising initiatives have included:
• SWAC 50/50 Raffle
• Community Dinners
• Community Car Washes
• Community Golf Tournament
• Community Poker Runs
• Community Corn Hole Tournaments