The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department held its annual Shop with A Cop trip to Cedar City on Dec. 8.

Sheriff Kerry Lee said he thinks this is the program’s 20th year. “We had a bus and driver provided by the school district. We had kids from Alamo, Panaca, Caliente, and Pioche. The kids are those specially selected by the elementary schools, since they are all elementary-age kids. Some of the parents also go along on the trip.”

Leaving Panaca at about 6:30 a.m., the group drove to Walmart in Cedar City and conducted its shopping spree there. Each of the kids was paired up one on one with a given officer who also went on the trip, and each was given an amount of money to buy whatever he or she wanted.

Lee said, “We had officers from the sheriff’s department, from the detention center and patrol, State Parks Service, Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Corrections, even the district attorney and public defender offices. We just had a really good turnout.”

He said at Walmart, students from Southern Utah University, football players and gymnastics athletes, helped the kids wrap their presents.

Lee said after the shopping was completed, the group went to Sizzler Steakhouse for lunch, donated by Sizzler, and then came back to Panaca.

Elementary school students from Beaver County and Iron County, Utah, had been at Walmart just before the Lincoln County kids arrived, and Lee said Santa Claus had come to the store, being flown into the parking lot by helicopter. Santa stayed long enough so the Lincoln County kids could have a photo taken too, if they so desired.

He said he was quite impressed with some of the local Cedar City residents who were shopping at the store at the same time. “Some of them told us how they thought this was a most worthy project and even helped us out further with a little money. Some of the locals even come to the store each year for the joy of watching the kids. Brings tears to the eyes of some.”

Lee said he has been involved in the program long enough now “that I have even escorted children whose parents were some of the first ones that went with us in the beginning.”

Money was raised this year through two Tip-A-Cop events held last month, one at the Side Track and the other at the Knotty Pine.