FULL CARTS, FULL HEARTS: Local emergency workers help kids buy Christmas presents

Barryton Police Chief Brian Miller, right, helps Matthew Langworthy, 6, pick out a gift for his mother at Thursday’s “Shop with a Hero” event at Walmart. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

BIG RAPIDS — Fifteen children from around Mecosta County got a big boost to their holiday spirits at Thursday’s “Shop with a Hero” event at Walmart.

But they weren’t the only ones feeling merry and bright.

Local emergency workers from agencies including Michigan State Police, the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office, Ferris State University, the Barryton and Big Rapids police departments and the Big Rapids, Mecosta and Big Rapids Township fire departments volunteered to help the kids pick out gifts for everyone in the family.

The Big Rapids High School hockey team assisted with the gift-getting. The Ferris State University equestrian team and Stanwood Pioneers 4-H club helped wrap the gifts.

Before going shopping, participants made an arts and crafts project at Heartfull Art Studio in Big Rapids and went to The Rock Cafe at FSU for dinner. The trip from campus to Walmart was made in fire trucks and police cars, with lights and sirens going off, much to the delight of the kids.

“This is my favorite part of the year. I get to meet these kids and talk to them before the event, and it’s such a highlight for me. The kids look forward to this for months beforehand,” said Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Darcy Mann.

In addition to the volunteers, Mann also credited Heartfull Art, The Rock and Walmart for making donations that made the event possible.

Hunter Fuller, 9, standing in the foreground, gets some help from Michigan State Police Trooper Brian Lucha, center, and Big Rapids High School hockey player Isaac Lobert at Thursday’s “Shop with a Hero” event at Walmart. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

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