BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Blount County Shop with a Cop event has been going on for nearly 30 years, but it all started in 1989 with a 9-year-old boy and two caring police officers.
Tony Crisp and Ron Dunn first met Kevin Morgan when he was a 9-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy at a youth camp. Morgan lost his mother in 1989 right before the holidays, and the two officers chose to step up so Morgan could have a happier holiday.
"When he lost his mother before Christmas, we just wanted to do something for him," Crisp noted.
Morgan recalls the day he got to shop with two police officers at Hills department store in Maryville like it was yesterday, and is so glad he can now see other children benefiting from the Shop with a Cop program.
"I didn't realize it had actually started with me," Morgan admitted. "It's a time that I'll never forget. I mean it was just a highlight of what I really needed when that was happening, and I'm so glad that it has turned into what it has."
Crisp, Dunn and Morgan got the chance to reunite at the 2018 Shop with a Cop event at the Alcoa Wal-Mart. All three men stood by and watched as the group of children filled the aisles alongside police officers, all with smiles on their faces.
Morgan even mentioned his favorite memory from the day when he got to have a shopping spree 30 years ago.
"The best part that I'll always remember is coming home they let me hit the siren before I pulled in the driveway coming up my road," Morgan remembered. "I was joyed to get to do that."
The Shop with a Cop event has helped hundreds of underprivileged children over the years have a merry Christmas. Each child is given $150, a shopping cart and a law enforcement officer buddy to guide them through the shopping process.
Shop with a Cop is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that relies solely on volunteer dollars to make the event happen. If you would like to donate, please click here.