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Chester County Press

'Shop With the Sheriff' gives young students a leg up on gift buying

12/10/2018 11:42AM ● By J. Chambless

Sheriff Carolyn 'Bunny' Welsh helps her student, Jaqueline, pick out a game for a relative on Saturday. (Photos by Chris Barber)

By Chris Barber
Correspondent

The 95 students who attend the Chester County Family Academy got a timely start on holiday shopping on Dec. 8 with the help of Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh and her deputies.

Now in its fifth year, “Shop With the Sheriff” takes the children on a buying adventure, with $100 each to spend at the Kennett Square Walmart. Many of the kids at this West Chester-based charter school are from low-income families and would not otherwise be able to buy gifts.

Two buses, followed by a caravan of sheriff’s department vehicles, arrived at the store at about 9 a.m. Welsh led the children inside the store and through a receiving line of deputies, sharing high-fives as they went. Then they were each assigned a deputy to push them around the store in a shopping cart and help find gifts for their relatives. Welsh sent them on their way and told the deputies, “If they go over the $100, it is OK.”

As Welsh watched the children fan out over the store, she beamed with pleasure. “This is the best day of the year for me,” she said. The deputies, plus other volunteers in yellow T-shirts, enjoyed it as well.

Veteran shopping project deputy Brian Bolt was helping his student shopper, Titus, find a pair of pajamas for his father. “It’s great for the kids,” he said.

Many of the children bought games, toys and clothes. The video game “Fortnite” was a popular choice.

After their shopping trip, the children returned to the Elks Club in West Chester, where they had lunch and a visit from Santa Claus. A large team of volunteers there also helped wrap the gifts. At a later date, the children were scheduled to shop again for presents for themselves.

The “Shop With the Sheriff” project is funded by donations from individuals and organizations, as well as a $5,000 contribution from Walmart.

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