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Shop With An Officer returns

By KATIE CLONTZ - kclontz@thecouriertimes.com

This holiday season will be a little brighter for several Henry County children thanks to the Shop With An Officer program.

The program, which returned in 2017 for the first time in several years, is organized by three women with law enforcement connections and a desire to help others: Katherine Sealover, Lesa Tompkins and Amanda Herbert.

Sealover’s husband, Neil, is a sergeant with the New Castle Police Department and Tompkins’ husband, Joseph, is a patrolman. 

Last year, the program’s goal was to help 10 children in need, but 20 kids ended up receiving assistance. This year, the organization hopes to again help 20 children. 

“It’s a great, positive interaction between the community and the police department,” said New Castle Police Chief Matt Schofield. “It’s a great way to help the underprivileged youth of this community.” 

Assistant Police Chief Justin Wardlow agreed. 

“We’ve really tried to make this whole year focus on community policing and positive interaction so people can see officers in a different light, especially the kids,” Wardlow said. 

Each child selected to participate in Shop With An Officer will receive $100 to spend on whatever they like. 

Applications are available at the New Castle Police Department, 227 N. Main St., New Castle, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Applications are also available on the “Shop With An Officer” Facebook page. 

Applications must be received by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16. Completed applications can be mailed to the police department, dropped off during office hours or faxed to 765-521-6846. 

Proof of income is not required, but those applying must state why they are having a financial hardship and require assistance. Applications will be cross-checked to ensure families selected are not receiving assistance through other holiday assistance programs in New Castle and Henry County. 

Children selected to receive assistance will be notified in early December. Applicants should not call to check the status of their applications. 

Funds for the program have been raised throughout the year, including a vendor fair in June and a No Shave November campaign where police officers are donating their own money to the cause while growing beards and facial hair. T-shirts have also been sold. 

Approximately 10 New Castle Police officers have volunteered to help participating children make their purchases during an event that will take place the afternoon of Dec. 8. 

“Some of the younger guys on the department have really stepped up and brought it back into play,” Schofield said of the program. 

In addition to Shop With an Officer, the New Castle Police Department helps the Christian Love Help Center distribute Thanksgiving meals to those in need. The department also donated money to the Interlocal Community Action Program in October during Breast Cancer Awareness month and has participated in community fishing outings and golf tournaments. 

Any business or individual who wants to make a donation to the Shop With an Officer program can still do so. Checks and money orders can be made payable to the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) Lodge John Kura #70. Payments can be mailed to the New Castle Police Department, 227 N. Main St., New Castle, IN 47362.

For more information about Shop With an Officer, email shopwithanofficer@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page.