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SCC Sheriff's Department looking for residents to sponsor children

Pictured are (from left): St. Croix County Sheriff's Stephen Ryan, Michael O’Keefe, Ryan Kelly, Justin Johnson, Gabe Hutton, Ryan Fowler (kneeling), Lt. Garry Simacek, Nicholas Raiolo, New Richmond Police Department officer Katie Chevrier, officer Nick Lubow, Hudson officer Traci Hall, Sheriff John Shilts and Baldwin officer Dall Orr.

St. Croix County Sheriff’s Investigator Dean Fayerweather has been with the sheriff’s office for 21 years and a cop for 23. Almost since the beginning of his time as a police officer, Fayerweather has wanted to connect with the local communities he served and help the area children who are in need.

“I’ve always wanted to get something like this going and get more involved, but with our jobS and the hours we work, as well as making sure we spend time with our families, it has been hard to get anything going,” Fayerweather said. “So, as the union president, I decided to try to get this kicked off and it started last year helping the Salvation Army ring bells during their 30 hour-bell ringing marathon. We had deputies sign up and help those gentlemen ring the bell over Christmas time.”

In order to get more involved in the communities they serve, the Sheriff’s Department started a benevolent association. As part of that program, officers are looking for sponsorships for area children to take part in the department’s inaugural Shop with a Cop event, which will take place in August. The Sheriff’s Department is partnering with the Salvation Army, which will also help offset costs for the program's first year if needed.

“The area law enforcement has done their own Shop with a Cop events in the past, but we haven’t done it on our own. We have just started our own benevolent association this year, which is our way of connecting with the community and showing that we are human, too,” Fayerweather said. “We have a job to do, but we have this nice side to us and we are there for the community.”

As part of the Shop with a Cop program, local law enforcement officers will volunteer their time to shop with a child who needs a new outfit, a new pair of shoes and other basic clothing items, such as socks and underwear, to get their school year off to a great start. Prior to their shopping session, the children selected will have dinner with officers at Faith Community Church in New Richmond before being escorted in a squad car to Walmart.

“We want to interact with them one-on-one because most children we deal with are under experienced with law enforcement,” Fayerweather said. “We want to make them see that there is a positive side to us. We want to let them know that we are parents and that we care.”

In order to sponsor 75 to 100 children’s participation in the Shop with a Cop event, Fayerweather the department needs to raise $8,000-$10,000 in sponsorships. However, that estimate depends on the children’s ages. The sponsorship levels are broken down into age groups which each have their own dollar amount. The sponsors can mark their checks/donations with the level of child they want to sponsor.

“We will go to guidance counselors and principals at schools in St. Croix County and have them nominate who they feel is a family in need,” Fayerweather said. “We could end up with a single child from a family or we could end up with multiple. We are hoping to get 75 to 100 kids. That includes whatever children that are housed at Grace Place right now.”

The department is advising counselors and principals to look for kids who come to school the first day or week of school who aren’t dressed properly, possibly wearing hand-me-downs or shoes with holes in them.

“We are focusing on clothes that are essential to start school with...because every kid feels good going to school with a new pair of shoes or shorts. That is our main goal and what the focus of the whole focus of the program was about,” Fayerweather said. “Our officers love getting to interact with the kids through these kinds of programs. You can see it on their faces. Our officers are doing this on their own time, but once we get it going I don’t think it will be hard to find officers to volunteer.”

Fayerweather hasn’t taken part in a Shop with a Cop event in the past, but he plans on being part of the Sheriff’s Department’s program until he retires. He is excited to do something for children and families of the county.

“We chose New Richmond as the location since it is kind of the central spot in the county that has a Walmart, but this will focus on St. Croix County as a whole,” Fayerweather said. “We will go to all the school districts within the county to draw these kids from. The number of kids from each district that we select will depend on what funds we can raise.”

For more information on the St. Croix County Benevolent Association or to sponsor a child, visit the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. Sponsorships will be accepted until the end of July.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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