Program stirs Christmas joy
by Rory Doyle
Dec 14, 2012 | 2367 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Capt. Mike McCain with the Cleveland Police Department hands out gift cards at Thursday to sisters Alexis and Adrianna Darby. The Darbys have shopped for Christmas presents the last three years thanks to the donation-driven program.
Capt. Mike McCain with the Cleveland Police Department hands out gift cards at Thursday to sisters Alexis and Adrianna Darby. The Darbys have shopped for Christmas presents the last three years thanks to the donation-driven program.
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A big reason the spirit of giving this Christmas remains strong is Cleveland Police Capt. Mike McCain.

Over 100 Bolivar County kids will have a brighter holiday thanks to McCain's Shop With a Cop program.

The program runs completely on public donations and is made possible thanks to McCain's hours of commitment and sincere dedication.

Each year he collects funding to take as many children as possible on a shopping extravaganza.

The program, now in its 17th year, has impacted thousands of children.

This Christmas marks the third year Cleveland sisters Adrianna Darby, 12, and Alexis Darby, 9, will have a happier holiday thanks to Shop With a Cop.

Sharon Blaylock, the girls' grandmother, said McCain's efforts have been a blessing.

"My grandkids are raised by a single mother on a fixed income and no child support," said Blaylock. "Without the program our Christmas wouldn't be nearly as fun.

"It just inspires me to see them pick out something they wouldn’t otherwise get.

Alexis said there's nothing like having all the toy aisles to choose from.

"It's a lot of fun because I get to pick my gift — thanks to Mr. Mike," said Alexis. "I'm not sure yet what I'll get this time."

Adrianna, who will age out of the program this year, is looking forward to her final opportunity.

"I really want to say thanks to Captain Mike for helping us the last three Christmases," said Adrianna. "He's given us a lot of money."

McCain said he is thrilled donations from Shop With a Cop bring joy to shoppers who come back multiple years.

"What I like about it is that I know for three years they got something good for Christmas," he said. "My biggest fear is that there's children out there who don't get things for Christmas — I can't imagine that."

And perhaps the most heartwarming part of the program is when kids decide to pick out gifts for loved ones — instead of themselves.

"It happens every year. Those kids were thinking about somebody else, and to me, that's the coolest thing," said McCain.

McCain said he didn't expect so much success when the program began in 1995, but it's become a tradition he proudly directs.

"When it all began, I never dreamed it would have gone this far," McCain said. "It continues to be a special program for me and all the kids involved."

The program only works when people find the spirit to give, and McCain said he's continuously impressed how giving the community becomes.

"It's amazing that even with the economic challenges we face, so many people find it in their hearts to provide for the children who need it most," he said. "I'm just so appreciative that people keep on giving through the tough times.

"This little community really pulls together, and the amount of donations we collect is unreal."

Guardians and their happy shoppers have been meeting McCain every afternoon this week to choose their items using $50 gift cards. This year 120 youth took part.

McCain's last round of registered participants will be meeting at Walmart on Saturday.

“It's really a heart-warming experience to see their faces light up when they get to go shopping for something that they really want,” added McCain. "I'm 55 but I feel 25 when I'm out here with the kids."

Contact McCain at the Cleveland Police Department at 843-3611 for more details.