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Mingo County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Casey helps a local kid pick out a toy at the 2018 “Shop with a Deputy” program held annually by the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department.

The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department is currently accepting donations for their 22nd annual “Shop with a Deputy” program.

Every year since 1997, the Mingo County Sheriff’s office has taken needy children from across the county shopping for Christmas gifts at Walmart in South Williamson, Kentucky.

Mingo County Chief Field Deputy Joe Smith said the program runs solely off of donations from various businesses and people in the community. Also on Saturday, Dec. 7, deputies will stand at various locations across the county from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and accept donations.

“Without the community’s help, this event wouldn’t be possible,” Smith said. “Without the donations that we receive, we couldn’t do this. For the last several years we’ve spent $10,000 on the kids in that one evening, and that all comes from the collections. ... We’ll be standing out collecting on Saturday anywhere from Kermit to Gilbert to Matewan to Williamson.”

Every year the department receives a list of kids who are believed to be in the greatest need from local principals, teachers and other personnel from all of the elementary schools across the county.

The students chosen are between grades K-5, and the schools involved are Dingess Elementary, Williamson PK8, Burch PK8, Matewan PK8, Lenore PK8, Kermit PK8 and Gilbert PK8.

Smith said that in the past they were able to give each kid $50 to spend on any items of their choosing, but in recent years each kid has received $100 to pick out anything they like. The first year in 1997 they took 39 kids shopping, and the number was raised to 100 kids in 2018.

“It’s very humbling for us and something we look forward to every year,” Smith said of the program. “They’ll want to pick out a pair of socks for grandma or a ham for mommy to cook for Christmas. It is really heart touching.”

Donations can also be made via check in person at the Sheriff’s Office or by mail at PO Box 1270, Williamson, WV 25661. All checks should be made out to Mingo DSA with “Shop with a Deputy” written on the memo line. One hundred percent of all donations go toward the children.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.