How impressive our community is in how it takes care of each other. This is a Bluffton Christmas story about which everyone needs to know.

Since 2018, the Bluffton Police Department hosts an annual holiday event in December called Shop with a Cop. The brainchild of a Bluffton police officer, each Bluffton school resource officer selects children from each Bluffton school whose family is experiencing financial challenges. 

These children receive a $100 gift card and, with a Bluffton police officer, go to Wal-Mart and Shop with a Cop. The students use the gift cards to purchase holiday gifts for their families or themselves. This year, the event was held Dec. 10.

Shop with a Cop helps children know there are police officers and neighbors, who they don’t even know, who care and advocate for them. The children and a parent or guardian arrive at Wal-Mart and the gift buying begins. We saw mothers cry from the generosity and children so overwhelmed they didn’t know what to do with this gift or how to even begin shopping with this money. 

There is a group of business leaders in our community who make this event extra special. Their kindness is an essential ingredient, which makes this event so special.

Ken Anderson from Benchmark Interiors is the head elf, and he rallies his colleagues, associates, and friends to donate to this project. This year, they collectively raised an impressive $10,000.  I want to acknowledge the following for their efforts to bring joy to many children in Bluffton this holiday. 

 Ken & Arlene Anderson of Benchmark Interiors, Jim Jansen of Benchmark Interiors, Randy Jeffcoat of Jeffcoat Builders, Mike Lofstedt of All Pro Tires, Matt Bater of Full Circle Builders, Ron Boshaw of Boshaw Residential, Andrew Fishkind of May River Contracting, Jonny Istrate of Island Plaster, Eugen Pop of Builtmart, Rick Watson of Watson Development, Michael Kronimus of KRA Architecture, Tim Huber of Ironline Steel, Kerrie and Jay Wiendl, and John Russell of Heuser Enterprises.

Donors also include Diane Ward, James Kowalczk, Kieran and Mary Stevens, Deborah Boshaw, Accurate Reproductions, Martha Cousino, Gae Davidson, and Denny Woodring.

Words cannot express the surprise and happiness on these children’s faces due to the wonderful spirit of our neighbors. 

Bravo, Bluffton!

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.