Before 9-year-old William Barnes walked inside Wal-Mart on Monday, he already knew what he wanted: Legos and a Nintendo Wii game called Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Lt. Chris Patterson walked beside Barnes, who pushed the cart down the aisles at the Harrison Road store in search of the perfect Lego set.
“I’m into the medieval stuff,” Barnes said before changing his mind and picking out a ninja-themed Lego set.
Patterson was one of 30 off-duty Bibb County sheriff’s deputies helping more than 125 children buy toys on their wish lists Monday evening as part of the 25th annual shopping with law enforcement event put together by the Fraternal Order of Police.
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Children in need were given a budget of $80 to $100 to spend on whatever toys they wanted.
With Legos and a video game in his cart, Barnes grinned as he picked out his last few items.
“He looks up to us,” Patterson said of Barnes. “He said he wanted to be a police officer, so that’s encouraging, you know what I mean? Because usually we’re the bad guys nowadays.”
Barnes said he has been taking part in the annual event for several years, but this is the first year he has actually shopped with a cop by his side. He plays the video- game “Call of Duty” at home, but he said shopping with a real law enforcement officer is much cooler.
“I’ve just been experiencing (law enforcement) all my life, and I just want to help people and all that,” Barnes said.
Anthony Hewitt, 11, also got the chance to shop with a deputy Monday. Deputy Emmett Bivins pushed the shopping cart behind him.
“We’re going to have a good time,” Bivins told Hewitt with a laugh. “You lead me.”
First on Hewitt’s list was a remote-controlled car. He skipped over the motorcycles and monster trucks and picked out a lime green Camero, a car Bivins said is his favorite.
Hewitt’s 15-year-old brother, Malik Bonner, watched Hewitt pick out a Mongoose bicycle for tricks.
“It’s just good to see that he’s getting what he wanted,” Bonner said. “It helps a lot.”
Lt. Danny Thigpin, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 in Macon, said he expected this year’s shopping spree to cost about $11,000.
On Tuesday night, the Fraternal Order of Police will have the same event in Perry with about 30 to 40 kids, Thigpin said.
“We want to thank Middle Georgia for their continued support,” Thigpin said. “If we didn’t have this support, this wouldn’t happen.”
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4382.