Sargent Emily Fary and Lily, 8, posing with the My Little Pony coat and the gel pens to replace the ones she missed having.
Photo by Alexandra Tecco/The Connection
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The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department teamed up with 39 children during the Shop with the Sheriff event on Thursday, Aug. 25. The school-aged children are currently residing in emergency shelters around the county which makes the culmination of the event, back-to-school clothes shopping at the Target in Burke, specially helpful for the children and their families.
The kids got to know the members of the Sheriff’s Department over arts, crafts and a pizza lunch. When the bus arrived at Target, led by the blue and red lights of their motorcycle escort, the children had obviously made fast friends with their personal mentor for the day. Consequently, Target’s boys and girls clothing sections were filled with the smiles of the children followed by the brown uniforms of the staff of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department.
“This event combines the Sheriff Department and public safety along with young people who are experiencing a difficult time in their lives,” said Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman.
The story behind why each child and their families are residing at the emergency shelters are unique. As such there is no one-size-fits-all list of items to purchase. Instead, through coordination with the children, families, shelters and the shopping experience itself, the $250 is tailored to meet both the needs and unique tastes and styles of each child. The funds for the event were raised by the Sheriff’s Office, community and business partners as well as individual donations.
The children’s tastes varied. Some were drawn to favorite colors, glittered belts, superhero shirts or a particular style of jeans. For Nicole, 6, her favorite item was an orange dress she found with help from Private First Class Marcus Medina. “I love being able to be out in the community,” explains Medina. Working in civil enforcement means Medina sees a lot of evictions. “The hardest part of doing the job is seeing how the kids don’t have a choice,” Medina explains. The opportunity to participate in the event for his first time last year, made it an event he looked forward to joining again this year.
Lily, 8, was very thankful for the “shoes and clothes for school and happy to have someone nice,” she said, looking at Sergeant Emily Fary. This is Fary’s fourth year participating in the event. It had come up in conversation earlier in the day that the thing Lily missed most was her gel pens, explained Fary, so in addition to the necessities they made sure to pick up new pens.
This is Shop with the Sheriff's 24th year. Sheriff Stacey Kincaid is glad to point out that they have been able to help more children as well as provide them more funds every year. But it also “plays an important role to build bridges between law enforcement and youth,” she explains. It presents an opportunity for children to interact on a personal level with the members of the Sheriff’s Department.