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'Shop with a Cop' program benefits hospitalized veterans
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DARLINGTON - The City of Darlington Police Department will be hosting its first ever "Shop with a Cop" program Saturday - but with a bit of a twist compared to the traditional version of the program.

"Shop with a Cop" is a well-known nationwide program in which many police departments are involved. The program partners children with police, fostering positive and lasting relationships. Typically, the gifts purchased are given to the child who has partnered with the officer, but the Darlington Police Department has tweaked the program to benefit veterans.

Darlington Community School District counselors chose 13 children from grades 7 through 12, who will accompany officers to Darlington businesses Saturday morning. They will buy presents to give to hospitalized veterans in Madison.

Funds to purchase gifts have been donated by Darlington churches, the Legion Post, Optimist Club and Lions Club. After shopping, the children and officers will return to the police department to wrap the gifts and enjoy lunch donated by Subway of Darlington. Lamers Bus Lines, Inc., of Darlington has donated a bus and driver who will transport the officers and children to Madison, where they will present gifts to 26 long-term-care patients at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. The police department has been working with representatives from the hospital in advance to prepare for this day.

The police department hopes that the gift-giving will brighten the lives of men and women who will be spending the holidays in the VA Hospital and will show gratitude for the gift of freedom they have given.