Nearly 70 elementary school students from several Eastern Kentucky counties celebrated the holiday season with the Kentucky State Police Friday morning during the annual “Shop with a Trooper” event.

The event  brought 69  students  from  the elementary schools in the Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties to Pikeville’s Walmart. Each KSP trooper, including those currently serving and retirees, at the event shopped with one or two students around the store for nearly an hour, and each child could pick out $100 worth of toys and $100 worth of “warm gear,” like clothing, coats, hats, gloves or other items. The event has taken place for more than 20 years, and it was organized by the Kentucky State Police Post 9 Professional Association.

KSP Post 9 Capt. Donnie Shearer has participated in the event for about 15 years, and he said that both the children and the officers look forward it every year.

“You can talk to any officer here,” Shearer said. “They’ll tell you, it’s one of their favorite things they get to do all year. It’s very enjoyable for all of us.”

Family resource centers from the elementary schools in the five counties helped choose the children who took part in the special event. Shearer said the event allowed less fortunate children from the five counties to get an opportunity to pick out gifts and clothes.

“I love seeing the smiles on the children’s faces,” Shearer said. “What always impresses me is the kids’ generosity. They always want to get that perfect present for their sibling or their family members, rather than for themselves. Today will be a special and fun day for them.”

The students were treated to breakfast and lunch, and every family of students received a Christmas dinner to bring home, provided by Walmart, Save-A-Lot and Heiner’s Bakery.

Erin Caudill, family resource center coordinator from Porter Elementary School in Johnson County, has come to the event with her school’s students for several years.

“This helps develop relationships between the children and the state troopers, which is really important for some of these kids,” Caudill said. “They are super excited. For a while, they’ve been talking a lot about the toys and going to McDonald’s afterwards, but they’ve been talking about which presents to get for their family members, not themselves, which I think is really cool.”

The KSP Professional Association raises money throughout the year to hold “Shop with a Trooper” by receiving donations and holding different fundraisers.

For more information on the KSP Post 9 Professional Association, contact the KSP Post 9 at, (606) 433-7711.

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