WADSWORTH: The downtown fire station was filled with excitement, merriment and laughter Saturday as more than 80 children were treated to a pancake, sausage and juice breakfast. However, the minds of the youngsters were probably not on the food but on the shopping spree to come.
That breakfast was a prelude to the “Shop with a Cop” program, which would end in a frenzy of Christmas shopping by those children at the Wadsworth Walmart.
The servers said the food was served with "smiles" by "multi-generational ladies" and prepared by other volunteers at the fire station.
After the breakfast, the children climbed into more than 40 police, fire and emergency vehicles to journey up High Street to begin shopping. Wadsworth Police Chief Randy Reinke said the children shop for their parents and siblings as well as for themselves.
The vehicles pulled into the Walmart parking lot and jubilant children with radiant smiles exited the vehicles to begin their shopping spree.
Walmart employees were lined up outside the store waiting to greet and welcome the shoppers. As they climbed out of the vehicles with their guardians for the day, many of the children practically danced to the store.
Chris Dunlap, shift manager at Walmart, termed the project "amazing" and noted this would be his third year of seeing the project in action.
Each of the children had $100 to spend on presents, with each community being responsible for obtaining donations to provide funds for the children brought to the activity. The safety force representatives stayed close by the children while they made their selections, keeping count of how much the child had spent and sometimes giving the younger children hints.
In addition to Wadsworth, safety forces from Orrville, Dalton, Montville, Rittman, Creston, Seville, Spencer, West Salem, Doylestown and Medina participated in the “Shop with a Cop” program this year. Of the more than 80 children in the program, 22 were from Wadsworth and the remainder from other communities.