BATAVIA – Ten-year-old Caden Nobel smiled as he clutched a skateboard and a bag of Minecraft Legos after Christmas shopping at the Batavia Wal-Mart.
But this was no ordinary spree Wednesday: It was the annual Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 14 Shop with a Sheriff event.
“And I’m getting Nerf guns and I got a present for my little sister, a toy,” Caden said, holding up a Peppa Pig.
“This is my favorite,” Caden said, hugging the Minecraft Legos to his chest. “I love Minecraft and I love Legos.”
“It means a lot,” said his father, Michael Nobel of Aurora, about the Shop with a Sheriff event. “It goes a long way. Some of us don’t have what others may have. For them [the FOP] to step up and buy my kids some presents – it means a whole lot.”
About 50 sheriff’s deputies, some still working and many retired, participated, which included 163 children and individuals, retired deputy John Stoffa said.
DoBanney Wesley of Aurora and her two sons, Jamie, 11 and Jaden, 10, also participated.
“It’s giving kids a chance to come out and enjoy the Christmas holiday,” Wesley said. “They get to shop and law enforcement gets involved. It’s very positive for the children and the community as a whole.”
Several participants, such as Crystal Murphy, 32, of Batavia, live at Association for Individual Development’s group homes for the developmentally disabled.
Murphy’s support person, Chassity Hicks and Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Collins helped supervise her shopping.
“I like being with cops,” Murphy said. “And when they go after the bad guys – I watch this show they call ‘Cops.’ And I like that show.”
Murphy gave Collins a hug.
“Crystal is doing a great job of shopping for her friends, as well,” Collins said. “She’s doing a great job. The candle is a gift for someone. And the wallet is a gift for someone. So she is thinking about others.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Wolf and K-9 Erin, a bloodhound, also came to help out the shoppers.
“Her job is to find people,” Wolf said.
But with such an arresting presence, people had no trouble finding Erin, with many stopping to pet her and take her photo.
Store manager Crystal Semmerling said it was a great event.
“We’re so excited to support the Kane County Sheriff’s Department FOP and be a part of this event,” Semmerling said. “We really enjoy having all the kids in the store and seeing the smiles on their faces.”