FOP Shop with a Cop

Indiana State Police Detective Laurie Lemler (left), Shiloh Milner and President of Plymouth-Kilwinning Masonic Lodge No. 149 Hurshel Hunter are preparing for the live radio auction fundraiser Friday for FOP Shop with a Cop.

MARSHALL COUNTY — Plymouth Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 195 will be holding their annual Shop with a Cop event Saturday, Dec. 14. The Plymouth-Kilwinning Masonic Lodge No. 149 will provide breakfast at Plymouth Wesleyan Church for the volunteers and recipients of the program before they go shopping for clothes and “joys”. The deadline to submit an application for the program is Friday, Dec. 6. 

The 10th annual live radio auction will be aired on WTCA starting at 8 a.m Friday, Dec. 6. Items up for bid this year can be viewed on the WTCA website at am1050.com. Proceeds from the auction fund the outreach. Shop with a Cop collection jars are also distributed in area businesses.

The organization will serve 150 to 175 youth and elderly this year including 21 clients from the Marshall-Starke Development Center who don’t have family.

Indiana State Police Detective Laurie Lemler emphasized that those who are selected for the 2019 program will be notified by text, call or email. “Applicants who have not been contacted by Wednesday, Dec. 11 were not selected for the 2019 event.” 

President of Plymouth-Kilwinning Masonic Lodge No. 149 Hurshel Hunter is passionate about helping those in need and enjoys the collaborative group effort among the community including law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency responders. Hunter emphasized gratitude to the business owners and donors for their support of the program. “We could not be successful without help from the community.”

Shop with a Cop has been a tradition in Plymouth since 1995. That year, 24 kids and young people were gifted with needed clothing and a toy to provide Christmas to those who could least afford one. Hunter said, “This year we hope to help between 150 and 175 young people.” 

The Plymouth-Kilwinning Masonic Lodge, the FOP and several volunteers work together to make the event a reality every year. Committees are formed to delegate responsibility to those individuals who serve best within those roles. The Radio Auction Committee works to collect donated items for the auction and they help at the auction the day of. The Application Committee looks over all of the submitted applications every year to choose which families will be selected for the program that year. Hunter spoke highly of the volunteers, “We have the greatest committees who are dedicated to our programs.”

Shiloh Milner said, “This Friday will be fast, crazy and furious. It will be the most organized chaos you have ever seen at the radio station.” The auction will start at 8 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. A different block of items will be auctioned off every half hour with the money raised used to fund the program. 

Milner recommended that anyone interested in bidding on an auction item to obtain their bid number prior to 8 a.m. Friday morning. Bid numbers can be obtained by calling WTCA at 574-936-4096. 

The phone lines get busy during the auction so Milner suggested, “Bid to win. We understand that people want to get a good deal on items. We get that. Everyone is trying to save money. But at the same time, the bigger reason you are doing this is for these kids and for these elderly and for these clients out at Marshall Starke.”

The financial focus of the program is to provide clothing needs. Milner said, “We really hope parents will focus on boots, coats, shoes, gloves or items needed to keep their children warm.”

A smaller portion of the gift goes toward the purchase of a toy. Milner said, “We do let each kid pick out a toy. Because you know what, that’s what it’s all about. Having something they enjoy. Kids are still kids. Sometimes the teenage kids want a little makeup instead.” 

Hunter has been with the program since it started in 1995. Fighting back tears he said, “I really think that God has put a burden on my heart to make sure that we help as many children as we can. That is my goal in life before I die. Whether it be Shop with a Cop or food, we have been blessed. We have been blessed as an FOP. We have never failed.”

Milner started over a decade ago. She said, “I think I came on board in 2004 to help answer the phones for the radio auction. Sometimes you don’t fully understand what you are doing until you are right in the throes of it. A couple of years later Hurshel tells me I’m running it. You run with it.”

“It’s the hustle and bustle of getting it ready and executing it and you get to see the kids and they are excited. They are talking to their fireman or their policeman. You walk around and you see someone with a kid on their shoulders, walking through the store, taking them shopping. It’s not just about economical need. These are all one people. We are just all one people. We are all here. We are all helping each other. You have to think about the fact that sometimes, these families help us as much as we help them.”

Hunter agreed. “Yes. We get as much from them as they do from us.” Hunter added, “The child always wants to buy mom something. It’s inevitable. They want to buy mom something. It’s amazing.”

Milner continued, “You just slow down for a minute. You might stop being judgmental. You don’t know what that person has gone through. What they are going through on a day to day basis.” 

Lemler said, “It humanizes you.” Milner said, “We had a client from Marshall-Starke who wanted his own toothbrush. Things that many of us take for granted.” 

Hunter spoke to the stigma held by some against law enforcement, “You hear a lot about law enforcement. You hear a lot of negativity. This is one way we come back.”

Milner said, “We have taken families who have been struck by sickness, death, and whose parents have been arrested. Those are the ones who are truly benefiting from this because in their mind, the cops took their parents away. We see it all.”

At the suggestion of Milner, the program added service to the elderly who are without family to the program a few years ago. “I love helping the kids. But when you think about these elderly out there who have no family my heart goes out to them too.”

Though hesitant to make a change initially, helping the elderly is one of Hunter’s favorite things about the outreach. “I don’t like change. But this is one of the best things we do. To see the elderly cry when you give them a food card. They cry.” Hunter recognized help from Real Services in identifying elderly in need. 

Food is the focus of gifting to the elderly and the preference is to give them a gift card so that one large donation of food won’t spoil before they can eat it. The gift cards can also be used to help pay for prescription medication when that would be more helpful to the recipient. 

Hunter said, “Our goal is to get the contribution to the elderly up to $100 like we do for the kids. But that’s a slow process. We give what we can.”

Lemler dedicates her time to enhance the community. “It’s community. This humbles you. It’s about all the random acts of kindness that we are called to do and often fail to do. That’s why I do it.” 

The outreach is planned for the entire year and culminates in December. Other charity events sponsored by the FOP include Pack a Backpack. Hunter concluded, “Law enforcement sees the worst of the worst. This brings us back to reality.” 

Hurshel Hunter shared the following tips for a successful auction experience.  

In order to bid on an item, you must have a bidder number. To receive your bidder number, call the radio station at 574-936-4096. During the auction, the phone lines are very busy, please call for your number before the auction begins. You may call the station anytime this week. 

If you are listening online, please remember that there is a delay between what you are hearing and real time. Don’t miss out on an items because you waited until the last minute to call and bid.

The volunteers answering the phones do not know the winners of the items. Winners will be notified by phone after the auction block has closed.

Please keep in mind that there are multiple phone lines being answered during the auction. It is possible that there could be two people bidding on the same item, at the same time. If you want it, bid to win.

When calling to bid on an item, please know the item number of the item you are bidding on. This makes it easier and faster for the volunteer answering the phone. 

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