JOHNSBURG – The 7-year-old Harvard boy’s feet dangled a few inches above the floor as he sat on a little bench near the shoe display.
Kneeling beside him and helping him try on a snow boot was Dan Sedlock, chief of corrections at the McHenry County Jail and chairman of McHenry County Police Charities.
The boy, Juan, was among about 90 children participating in the Police Charities’ Shop with a Cop program at the Johnsburg Walmart early Sunday. Another 120 were paired with police officers from throughout the county at the Walmart in Crystal Lake.
Each child received $150 to spend as he or she wished, plus a hat, gloves, a coat and snow boots. For the event, McHenry County Police Charities pairs needy children with an officer who helps them navigate the store aisles.
Juan’s wish list included pants, socks and other necessities. He also looked forward to finding “lots of coloring stuff.”
“You’ll have to draw me a picture so I can hang it on my wall,” Sedlock said.
McHenry County Police Charities Vice Chairman Jason Weisenberger said boys and girls ranging in age from 5 to 15 were referred to the program through law enforcement and social service agencies.
“The selflessness of the kids who come in here and ask the officer to [add to the cart] something for their mom or grandma or other brothers or sisters, it just tugs at your heart strings,” said Weisenberger of McHenry.
Officers picked up most of the children at their homes before dawn.
Walking the aisles about 7 a.m. with McHenry County Sheriff’s Det. Travis McDonald, 7-year-old Dylan of Wonder Lake had gathered matching camouflage-patterned boots and coat, an angry birds knit hat and gloves, and a radio-controlled car.
“This is awesome,” said Dylan, whose 9-year-old brother, T.J., also was in the store.
“I get to pick out toys and I get to pick out something for my sisters and I get these stuff for free,” he said, pointing to the cold-weather gear.
Eleven-year-old Angelina of Hebron and her sisters, Isabella, 6, and Sophia, 10, thoroughly enjoyed the chance to pick out winter clothing and more.
“I really like these boots,” Angelina said, pulling back a taupe winter coat to reveal a pair of black, faux fur-trimmed boots.
Walking along with Bull Valley Police Officer Tony Lopez, Angelina had in her cart mostly clothing, but also a fishing pole.
“We’re having a good time,” Lopez said. “We’re finding out that we’re both the oldest of three, so we’re exchanging war stories.”
Angelina’s father, 40-year-old Michael Fust of Hebron, said he has not worked since he was injured in a crash two years ago.
“This,” he said as his daughters shopped, “is a Christmas miracle.”
How to help
To learn more, to volunteer or to donate, visit mchenrycountypolicecharities.org