DECATUR — Robert and Jayda Simpson, along with their brother Joshua Houser, were more than prepared to "Shop with the Sheriff" on Wednesday evening.
The Warrensburg trio scanned the aisles of Target in Mound Plaza in search of the various items that filled out their personalized shopping lists. Joshua, 13, was looking for a basketball and new shoes. Robert, 7, wanted headphones and a blue backpack, while 8-year-old Jayda fancied slime and nails.
"Fingernails," she clarified. "Not the other kind."
Wednesday marked the 13th time the Macon County Sheriff's Office hosted the shopping spree in Decatur, providing 45 local children $100 each to roam the store with their families and purchase whatever their hearts desired.
Sgt. Scott Flannery serves as the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 144, which raises the funds necessary to make Shop with the Sheriff possible by hosting golf outings and accepting donations from companies like Archer Daniels Midland Co.
Flannery said the children who were invited to participate were nominated by family members, school officials or youth service agencies.
"We bring the children out and say, 'Hey, we're cops. We wear brown, but we can also wear red for Santa Claus,'" he said.
Each with a sheriff's office official in tow, groups of excited, smiling children and their families gleefully raced around the store pushing red carts or wielding baskets full of goodies. Some tested out the hottest toys of the season, while others tried on clothes and browsed the electronics.
While the children can spend their money on whatever they wish, Flannery said it was common for many to spend the money on gifts for people that they care about.
"That's pretty cool," he said. "They realize that in the spirit of giving, it's not all about them sometimes, and they give back to their families."
Deputy Chris Adams said he was also inspired by the selflessness shown by the children. He has participated in the event since the first one was held in Decatur and said he looks forward to spending time with so many members of the community.
Adams joined Robert, Jayda, Joshua and their mother, Katherine Houser on their trip throughout the store. As Jayda tried on pairs of shoes, and Robert asked him a flurry of questions about his job, Adams said Shop with the Sheriff remains something that he looks forward to every year.
"It's a fun time," he said. "It's good to give back to the community."
This story has been updated to correct the last name of Deputy Chris Adams.