COVID-19 cancels, alters Marshall County law enforcement holiday programs

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. — The coronavirus is impacting holiday gatherings and events across the globe.

In Marshall County, it is causing the sheriff’s office to cancel or alter several of its holiday programs that help underprivileged children.

“Operation Brown Elf” is one of them.

“We provide, through donations, bikes to underprivileged kids at Christmas time. I think, last year we gave over 70-something bikes away to the kids here in Marshall County,” said Sheriff Phil Sims. 

Because of the coronavirus, dozens of kids won’t be getting those bikes from the department this year.

“It is disappointing. It’s different times now. It’s COVID,” added Sims.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 18’s “Shop with a Cop” event is also being impacted.

That event brings law enforcement from across the county and local families together through the spirit of giving.

“It’s well documented that that time that they spend with the officer affects them through the rest of their life, so we try to portray that positive image with the children,” said Marshall County Sheriff’s Office chaplain Richard Bartley.

“Some of them go up there and not buy one thing for them, but buy it for family or a friend. You see that in our youth and you really appreciate it,” added Sims.

“Shop with a Cop” is still happening this year, but it is adapting to the times.

“Buy gift cards from Wal-Mart and let the officers go to the houses, talk to parents, talk to the child and present them with the gift card,” explained Bartley.

The gift cards will be $150 each.

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office has also canceled the annual awards banquet which honors the employees that go above and beyond.

“If we’re asking people to stay home and you’ve got people who are even changing their Thanksgiving plans with their immediate families because of what’s going on, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for our office to have that at this time,” said Sims.

If CDC and ADPH event restrictions are changed and allow for a large gathering, Sims plans to have the banquet in February.

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