BY DAVID FISHER
WEAKLEY COUNTY (December 2) — As December 25 approaches, area law enforcement officers prepare to take a group of less-fortunate children Christmas shopping.
Weakley County Sheriff’s Investigator Eric Smith, author of “Sheriff Smith and Justice Investigate the Bedroom Monster,” is working with local law enforcement agencies and others to make Christmas a little bit brighter for area children who might not otherwise have anything for Christmas.
Money for the shopping spree comes from local fundraising events through the “Shop with Sheriff Smith and Justice” program, which provides toys and clothing to deserving youngsters.
Most of the money needed to take the children Christmas shopping each year is raised during a golf tournament at the Persimmon Hills Golf Course in Weakley County. “We had a lot of participation and a lot of sponsors,” Investigator Smith said. “Local businesses sponsored holes during the golf tournament, and proceeds from entry fees also helped fund the program.”
Additionally, money from the children’s book, “Sheriff Smith and Justice Investigate the Bedroom Monster,” sold during Dresden’s Christmas Open House on November 22 was donated to the program.
Volunteers from the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department; along with officers from the police departments in Dresden, Gleason, Greenfield, Martin and Sharon; Weakley County Department of Children’s Services; Weakley County Circuit Court Clerk Office; and other family and friends also support the program.
The Weakley County School System and the DCS supplied the names of the children.
Because of the outstanding participation this year, plans call for taking 50 children shopping and increasing their shopping allowance from $100 to $125. On Tuesday, December 15, these youngsters will be escorted through Martin Wal-Mart to pick out clothes and toys for Christmas.
“We look forward to it every year,” Investigator Smith said. “We enjoy it.”
“I have been in law enforcement for many years, and I have personally seen how children’s eyes light up when they see a police officer in uniform,” Officer Smith said. “They want to know who we are and what we do. Unfortunately, over the years as they grow older, they become more distant and begin to fear law enforcement officers. This may be in part due to parents using law enforcement as a scare tactic. I believe I can speak for other law enforcement officers when I say that we don’t want children to fear us, and we don’t want them to hesitate to call us when they need us.
“So with this in mind, I created Sheriff Smith and his dog Justice.
“I wanted to create characters that would help children feel comfortable with law enforcement, and at the same time help them conquer some childhood fears. My first book, ‘Sheriff Smith and Justice Investigate the Bedroom Monster,’ helps to show that the bedroom monster does not exist and how their imagination can get the best of them. I also ask the children to become part of the story by becoming a Special Deputy and to help solve the mystery.”
Copies of “Sheriff Smith and Justice Investigate the Bedroom Monster” may be purchased for $10 each by contacting Weakley County Sheriff’s Investigator Eric Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.