Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

More than 400 children were granted a special holiday surprise last year when law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, and county and community leaders picked them up and took them shopping for the annual “Shop with a Cop” Christmas program. Each child was treated to lunch and a $100 gift card to Walmart.

The program, which is in its 21st year, was started by Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland and his wife Marci, after learning of a family in need in the care of the county’s Department of Social Services. From there, the program has continued to grow and with the support of the community, which 100 percent funds the project, has been able to reach hundreds of children in Macon County.

“This program absolutely would not be possible without the support of the community and businesses in Macon County,” said Sheriff Holland. “The number of children we are able to serve depends on the amount of money we raise each year, and over the last few years we have been able to reach more children because the community continues to support Shop with a Cop.”

Over the last few years, Motor Company Grill has hosted a “Tip a Cop” fundraiser, which raises several thousand dollars for the program.

“We  always appreciate the staff at Motor Company Grill for hosting this event because businesses like Motor Company are what makes the entire Shop with a Cop program possible,” said Sheriff Holland. “Last year’s event was a huge success and a lot of fun. We look forward to showing folks we are better at ‘protecting and serving” our community as officers than we ever will be as waiters and waitresses.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.”

Sheriff Holland said the goal of this year’s event is to at least raise what they did last year, which was just over $5,000. The one-day event raised enough money for 50 children to participate in the program this Christmas.

Members of the MCSO, as well as Highlands and Franklin Police Departments, will be serving dinner at Motor Company Grill on Thursday, Sept. 28, from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. with 100 percent of the tips earned that night going to benefit the Shop with a Cop program.

“We are excited to be participating in this fundraiser again this year,” said Franklin Police Chief David Adams. “This event helps raise significant funds for the Shop with a Cop program. Shop with a Cop lets us interact with kids in a positive light and helps to reach so many children in our community who are greatly in need.”

While the service may not be the best Thursday night, it’s guaranteed that the cause couldn’t be more worthy.

“The opportunity to help Sheriff Robert Holland’s mission of Shop with a Cop is a no brainer for us at Motor Co. Grill,” said Timothy Crabtree, owner of Motor Company Grill. “Shop with a Cop is a wonderful way to see hundreds of children from our own community filled with joy at Christmas time.  Our ‘Tip a Cop’ fundraiser is a wonderful way for the community to chip in. And if it means nothing else to participants it’s an enjoyable evening to see our wonderful officers who normally protect and serve us on the streets try to serve food in the dining room. It is a great laugh and a fun evening. We love our officers and will always strive our best to support them in any way that we can.”