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Talon Walker is having trouble making up his mind. There are simply too many Star Wars figures to consider. He picks one up, studies it and then grabs another. Luckily, he has a little help from Kentucky State Police Trooper David Smith and his wife, Stephanie.
Walker, who is from Washington County, is one 13 kids who participated in KSP Post 15's "Shop With a Trooper" program last week.
"Shop With a Trooper" not only helps kids meet some basic needs, it also helps form a positive bond between police and kids, says Trooper Billy Gregory, KSP Post 15 public affairs officer.
"At times, we're portrayed to kids as bad guys. Some children are afraid of police. We want them to know we're here to help and this is an avenue in which we can do that."
Gregory said at least one child from each county the post covers was selected with the help of local school resource centers. There is no age limit, Gregory said, the kids just have to be in school.
Money was raised for the program through the Kentucky State Police Professional Association. Enough funds were raised to spend $100 on each child and treat them and their families to dinner at Mr. Gatti's.
The Post 15 program was broken into two groups - one shopping in Campbellsville and one shopping in Columbia. In Campbellsville, troopers shopped with seven kids from Taylor, Green, Casey, Marion and Washington counties. In Columbia, troopers shopped with six kids from Adair, Metcalfe, Monroe, Cumberland, Russell and Clinton counties.
Gregory said the focus is on needs - shoes, clothing, school supplies and even toys.
Gregory said the Columbia Post has only had one "Shop With a Trooper" program in the 12 years he has been there. The program was re-launched due to the efforts of new Post 15 Captain Gregory D. Baird. Baird transferred to the Columbia Post last month.
"He came from a post area that did this annually," Gregory said.
Gregory said the local program will likely become an annual event.
"Without a doubt, it will. The trooper support and interest exceeded my expectations. We've got 20 troopers and a few of their wives participating. We'd love to see it grow."