St. C. legion donates to Belmont County ‘Shop with a Deputy’
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clairsville American Legion Post 159 made a “generous” donation to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office to support its annual Shop with a Deputy program.
Larry Barnes, commander of St. Clairsville American Legion Post 159, and Rick Johnson, adjutant for the legion and secretary of the Fraternal Order of Police Association Lodge 13, presented Sheriff Dave Lucas with a check Tuesday. The funds will be used toward the Shop with a Deputy program, slated for Dec. 17, when deputies will take children in the community on a shopping spree for toys, clothing and accessories for the holidays.
Barnes said the American Legion has been assisting with funds for the program for several years.
“It helps out not just the local community, but the kids in the community,” he said.
The St. Clairsville American Legion has donated more than $27,000 to charities and programs in Belmont County over the last year.
“This is just one charity that we enjoy donating to,” he said. “… We know that we’re helping out people that need help in the community, whether that’s kids, families, and we enjoy doing this.”
Johnson said it is “very pleasing” to be able to donate and assist with a program that helps people in need. He said legion members plan to continue doing so each year for as long as they are able.
“It’s very special to do this time of year because of the holidays and, as a representative of the Fraternal Police Association, I’m pleased we’re able to help with the Shop with a Deputy program. It gives us a lot of excitement to be able to participate in the program,” he added.
Lucas declined to disclose the exact amount donated by the legion. He noted it was a “very nice contribution.”
He said he typically does not do so, as he does not want others who have donated to compare amounts.
He said all the donations the office receives for the program are appreciated.
Lucas said around 60 children in the community will be taken to breakfast at Eat’n Park on Dec. 17 before venturing over to Walmart in the Ohio Valley Plaza, St. Clairsville, for some shopping with deputies. He said each child will receive approximately $150 to spend.
“Them helping and donating money to us helps us to take this many kids. I remember when we started the program, we had 10 or 20 kids. But over the years, and every year the same ones help us out, so we’re up to 60 kids taking them shopping,” he said. “All of this is volunteer so all my deputies will be out there. We’re really looking forward and excited for a fun time.”
The program not only provides children with breakfast and gifts, but it allows them to see law enforcement in a different light.
“The kids really get to see us on a personal level instead of a professional level out there when we have to go to someone’s home who has kids so it’s a really good thing for us, for the community to see that we’re just like everyone else,” he said.
“… It’s phenomenal. I just see these kids light up.”
Lucas said the program means a lot to him. He credits the community’s support as a driving factor.
“We’re fortunate. We hear all these horror stories of these big cities that are clashing and fighting. We don’t have that here. Yeah, we have our crime and we have our drugs, but our community backs our law enforcement, not just the sheriff’s office, our local police departments. I mean when things were down and out with COVID, the community coming in here helping and assisting (us) was phenomenal,” he said.
“This is what we’re supposed to be. We’re not just supposed to be the bad guy to come out and arrest you. We’re supposed to be part of the community and I feel with the community’s help, we’ve accomplished that.”
Deputies in the office are also helping to raise funds for the program. Lucas said for a cost, deputies are able to grow their beards out this month with the funds raised benefiting the program.
Lucas said he is looking forward to the program on Dec. 17.
The program is completely funded by donations from the community. Anyone interested in assisting the program can mail or drop off donations to the sheriff’s office, located at 68137 Hammond Road, St. Clairsville, OH 43950.