Thanks to a donation by a national restaurant chain and efforts by several local employees, several less fortunate children will have a better Christmas this year.
During Thursday’s 10th Annual Turkey Trot, which is a fundraiser for the Williamsburg Police Department’s Shop with a Cop program, Mayor Roddy Harrison announced that Pizza Hut Inc. had donated $5,000 to the race.
“I normally don’t do this, but we have to thank Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut has donated $5,000,” Harrison told the cheering crowd prior to the race start. “Because of them and because of you guys, we are going to be able to take the number of children that we normally take to Shop with a Cop. Thank you so much.”
Harrison noted that the police department wasn’t able to hold the mud bog this year, which is normally a major fundraiser for Shop with a Cop.
In addition, a planned car show to help fund the program also had to be canceled due to inclement weather and couldn’t be rescheduled.
“The mud bog is usually one of the biggest fundraisers that we have,” Harrison said. “This $5,000 from Pizza Hut kind of took the place of the mud bog.”
Harrison said the donation lifted the spirits of everyone involved with Shop with a Cop program, which is most of the employees at city hall, because Williamsburg Pizza Hut employees and management have taken part in all the planning meetings so far this year for it.
In addition, most of the store employees also turned out on Thanksgiving morning to assist with the Turkey Trot taking time away from their families and friends, Harrison added.
Williamsburg Pizza Hut Manager Shannon Barman said she found out back in July from Williamsburg Police Department Victim’s Advocate Angie Weaver that Shop with a Cop had lost part of its funding.
Barman noted that the Williamsburg Pizza Hut was featured on the company’s blog several months ago for all the community service projects that it does, such as a big reading incentive program at Whitley East Elementary School.
A short time after being featured on the blog Barman was informed about a grant program for volunteers that the company has available, and submitted a grant application for Williamsburg’s Shop with a Cop program.
For several months, Barman heard nothing back and assumed that the grant hadn’t been approved.
Barman said that her employees were “extremely” excited when they found out recently that the grant had been approved.
221 people took part in Thursday’s Turkey Trot race.
This will be the 10th year for the Williamsburg Police Department’s Shop with a Cop program.
Over the past 10 years, Harrison estimates that about 2,000 children have taken part in Shop with a Cop.
Shop with a Cop is program that takes less fortunate children on $100 Christmas shopping sprees at Wal-Mart prior to Christmas.
This year’s event is scheduled for Dec. 15.