MARIETTA, Ga. - School bus drivers picked up 35 students at Marietta schools Tuesday, then dropped the students off at the Walmart on Cobb Parkway for a Shop with a Cop experience. Marietta Police Department spokesman Chuck McPhilamy said the department initially grappled with the notion of pulling off such a close and personal experience in a meaningful, but in a socially distant way. They ultimately decided with a few extra precautions, even COVID-19 couldn't stop the season of giving.
"We reached out to several schools that identified students in need and they said families wouldn't have a normal Christmas without this program. We reached out to those parents and they said the same thing, so we realized there was a real need for this event," said Officer McPhilamy.
With masks, hand sanitizer, and shopping lists, the children, escorted by Marietta officers, were able to get something special for themselves and for other members of their families.
"This was beautiful. I mean the officer was really nice and helped me make good decisions. It was nice to get whatever you want and have a $200 price limit," said Maurice Cannon, a Marietta school student.
American Legion Commander Walt Cusick said he was surprised, but grateful COIVD-19 hardships haven't hurt the organization's ability to support Marietta's Shop with a Cop program.
"It was the best year of donations and participation in 26 years that we've been supporting Shop with a Cop. It was unbelievable and it's important to support this mission because we believe in supporting veterans and a lot of these kids are veterans' kids," said Commander Cusick.
The young shoppers seemed grateful as well.
"It was super fun. I got to get lots Barbie [doll] set and arts and crafts and paint. It was really fun," said young shopper Jamari Cole.
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.