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MURPHYSBORO — Superheroes and action figures and the latest cartoon-inspired toys and dolls topped the lists of the dozens of children shopping for toys and other items in Saturday morning's "Shop With A Hero" program at the Walmart in Murphysboro.

For some though, like one 12-year-old boy, it was the more practical stuff — the chance to buy some much-needed gym shoes, some ear phones, toiletries.

27th Annual Shop With A Hero program

This 12-year-old boy shopped for ear phones, much-needed gym shoes and toiletries with the $75 gift card he got through the 27th Annual Shop With A Hero program. He said he will use the ear plugs with his phone and  his Chromebook at school. He shopped with Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy John Huffman during the event Saturday, 9 Dec. 2017, at the WalMart in Murphysboro.

What it meant to Laura Garcia was the chance for her daughters to buy toys and other items they might want for Christmas, items that she couldn't afford as her dollars went to support clothing needs.

"I don't have a lot of money," Garcia said, at the end of her family's shopping spree. "This is really beautiful."

Smiles and choices abounded, as the aisles at the store filled with law enforcement and firefighters from Jackson County, Murphysboro, Elkville and elsewhere.

Family gifted with Christmas shopping from Shop With a Hero

Here, Laura Garcia and her three daughters leave WalMart on Saturday, 9 Dec. 2017, after a shopping free with members of the "Shop With A Hero" program.

The selected youth had a gift certificate for $75 to spend on anything they liked.

This year's event was spearheaded by Ronald Stanton, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of the Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Lodge #117.

As the youth and their families lined up, he checked off a list, partnering youth with an officer or firefighter with whom to share their shopping.  Shortly after the program, started, though, he was called away from the assignment to help with a crash reconstruction.

"Shop With A Hero" program

Ronald Stanton (in the center, facing the family), with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Lodge #117, pairs children on the group's shopping list with a local law enforcement officer or fire fighter, for the group's 27th annual "Shop With A Hero" program.

Jackson County Deputy Brandon Crain and his K-9, Gunner, had their hands and paws busy with one little four-year-old, who seemed to keep changing his mind about items.  

"He's changing his mind a lot," Crain said. "We're a long way off (from their goal of $75)."

In the end, though, his little partner, Dylan Willilams Davis, not only wound up with his $75 in allotted gift items, but also a bike donated by Walmart.

Though his family said he already had a bike, he was so smitten with the one he had that he was willing to sacrifice, Ashley Etherton, a dispatcher with the Murphysboro Police Department, said.

"He put a lot of stuff back to get the bike," she explained.

27th Annual Shop With A Hero Christmas gift program

Murphysboro firefighter Lance Liggett shops with Christina Davison and her son and stepson Jayden Black, 7, and Lucas Grogan, 8, during the 27th Annual Shop With A Hero program hosted by law enforcement and other public safety officers on Saturday, 9 Dec. 2017 at the WalMart in Murphysboro. Davison said there was a struggle in trying to encourage the young boys to use part of their gift cards to buy much-needed clothing items, while they were more anxious to get to the store's toy section.

Like the other adults volunteering to shop with the youth on yesterday, she said her joy came from seeing their excitement.

"The kids (is what I like most)," she said. "Being able to buy for them (things they want for Christmas)."

27th Annual Shop With a Hero program

Little Josiah Pilgram was torn by all the toy choices, spending a bit of time with this Power Rangers toy, before he and his grandmother and another child moved on with their shopping during the 27th Annual Shop With A Hero program.


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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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