LIMA — Law enforcement personnel from agencies throughout Allen County escorted 85 less fortunate children, chosen by their schools, from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Hall in Lima to the Meijer Store on Elida Road for the annual Shop With a Cop outing Saturday.
Children and the law enforcement professional they were paired with shopped for clothing, essentials and Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.
Following the shopping, the group returned to the FOP lodge, where volunteers and the children wrapped the gifts and enjoyed pizza provided by TJ’s Pizza. “Barbers Giving Bikes” also presented each child with a new bicycle and helmet.
The program is funded by the Charitable Fraternal Order of Police, Lima Lodge 21, and its FOP Cops and Kids program.
The Lima-Allen County Regional Transit Authority provided two buses, and two drivers have donated their time to help with transportation to and from Meijer.
The Shop With A Cop program differs from a knock-off organization called “Cops for Kids” that has been accused by the Ohio Attorney General’s office of bilking residents of millions of dollars.
“The FOP Lima Lodge No. 21 applauds the attorney general for exposing such fraud,” said local FOP spokesman Michael Watkins. “We want to assure area residents that the FOP is in no way connected with this so-called charity.”
In addition to the annual Shop With a Cop outing, the local Fraternal Order of Police supports Special Olympics, the Allen County Junior Fair and other endeavors. None of the trustees of the charity receive any compensation for administering the funds, Watkins said.