FAIRFAX, Va. — Dozens of needy children will be starting the new school year in style after a free shopping spree with the Shop with the Sheriff program.
“Each year it seems to get better and better,” Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey A. Kincaid said of the annual charity event.
More than 40 children from area homeless shelters spent Thursday with sheriff’s deputies, enjoying lunch at Paisano’s before being treated to a $250 shopping spree at the Fairfax Target on New Guinea Road.
Program sponsors also include Montessori of Chantilly, Oracle America, the Sheriff’s Benevolent Fund, the Fairfax Sheriffs’ Association and SEIU Virginia 512.
The event helps bring a sense of normalcy to the children. This year’s group comes from three emergency shelters in Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria.
“Shop with the Sheriff means a lot — for the families, and for the dignity it brings to these kids, who are able to go to school on their first day and have the same types of supplies as all the other children,” says Joe Meyer, executive director and CEO of Shelter House, which serves homeless families in Fairfax County.
“This is hope today. If we didn’t have programs like this, if we didn’t have partnerships like this — there wouldn’t be that hope,” Meyer says of generous community support.
Beyond the benefits of back-to-school clothes and supplies, Sheriff Kincaid says the program builds relationships. “It’s about us being role models (to the children).”
Deputies interacting with the children encourage them to do well in school and urge them to be confident.
“They can be anything in the world that they want. That’s really important,” Kincaid says.