The Ashland Beacon
Some Christmases aren’t filled with tinsel, ribbon candy, and a turkey feast. We tell children Santa knows them personally – at Christmas time, you’re expected to be a nice child who graces Kris Kringle’s list.
Then, one day, the sound of jingle bells is erased in a toddler’s mind by a heavy knock on the front door of the rural trailer. Not only is the weather outside frightful, but a feeling of Jack Frost enters your family home, learning your parents - for sure - will make the Naughty List. Sleigh bells in the snow are drowned by sirens, and the multicolored, festive bulbs strung across the rooftop seem to dim with only the glow of blue in the nighttime sky.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Goodall saw this story so many times. He tries to honor Christmas in his heart and keep it all year, as Charles Dickens might say. See, these troopers at KSP Post 14 must serve as Princes of Peace and Wonderful Counselors all year but, during this yuletide, as families gather, sometimes Krampus shows up to kill the kindliness in the air. Kids see all that.
“For troopers, at one time or another, so many get to know these kids personally in firsthand settings,” relayed Goodall, speaking of the annual Shop with a Trooper Christmas event, which provides Seasons Greetings to underprivileged young people. “You get to know these kids in a bad, very bad, situation, and they come to see we are not there at the house for good…
“Usually, Mom or Dad is going to jail.”
The benevolent holiday event assigns a KSP Trooper to shop at Ashland Riverhill Walmart one-on-one, pushing a shopping cart and allowing the child or teen a day where kindheartedness is key. Children get a chance to witness the immortal mercy of Mary. Miracles abound from the manger to the messages of magnificent joy. Goodall has faith that purchasing a pair of woolen mittens for a child delivers memories and brings melody in their relationships with police. Goodall says this acceptance of Christmas gladness and gifts helps break down harsh barriers and relieves some of the fear children might experience.
Goodall understands the impact of Shop with a Trooper. “They run inside Walmart, ready to shop, and they’re looking for one specific trooper – usually someone they met at their own home. The kids hug them, and then we move to go shop together.”
He believes that Shop with a Trooper not only touches the hearts of kids, but also creates anticipation in fellow troopers. “As a trooper, you see a lot of bad, and bad, and bad,” offered the 21-year KSP veteran and Public Affairs Officer. “Something like this takes the monotony out of only seeing negative situations and builds morale among troopers. We truly look forward to it.”
Children eagerly await Shop with a Trooper, aromas of holiday sugar cookies and confections lined along a buffet table in abundance for kids’ enjoyment in Walmart. The children will enjoy a Chick-fil-A feast, pose with Old Saint Nick and the Grinch for Christmas photos, and be aglow, assigned a towering trooper, their polished brass buttons shining bright as New Year’s Eve fireworks.
According to Goodall, this yearly project is entirely self-funded and conducted through community and business donations of the pure-of-heart. On this December 15th Noel, tummies are nourished, neighborhoods are blessed with love of Nativity, and a network of State Trooper elves provide nostalgia of a Polar Express trip to the North Pole. As the economy suffers, unwrapping an event of such unconditional compassion is difficult to uphold. The program serves over 100 kids and needs snowballing donations. Taking care of Boyd, Carter, Greenup, and Lawrence counties, bestowing benevolence and brotherly and sisterly love upon babies is costly.
Goodall explained why annual numbers are growing:
“We share assistance to struggling families. Due to the drug epidemic, we find more grandparents raising their grandchildren. Just meeting day-to-day needs is difficult. To provide the extras for Christmas is nearly impossible. When it’s hard to afford to buy eggs, milk, gas, or just put food on the table, one cannot save enough money for Christmas.”
Troopers often meet the children served by Shop with a Trooper on emergency calls. Post 14 keeps a log of children who would be blessed by this bounty of Christmas. Goodall also fields phone calls recommending specific children who are in need. As prices increase, they found the over forty-year-old program is becoming increasingly difficult to conduct. They will spend over $20,000 this year on this Night Divine.
The program continues to operate, giving to less-fortunate – even through 2020, the year Covid-19 struck our communities. Needy families sent lists of Christmas wishes to KSP. Teaming with Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center, the troopers, their families and their families gift-wrapped presents for 125 kids and held the presents in a storage building (AKA Santa’s Workshop). Families were allotted times to pick up the gifts at Boyd County Community Center.
“It was just sad,” Goodall said. “You know these kids are alone and suffering through the pandemic, but we hope seeing Santa made things a little brighter.”
Obligingly, Goodall is quick to thank the overflowing work of Walmart’s People Lead, Ann Perry, who ornaments the party with sheer love; and the Santa’s Helpers at Chick-fil-A who eagerly exalt the love of Jesus by providing meals to the children and families in attendance.
“They’re just incredible, I can’t say enough. They are enthusiastic and go out of their way just to help us.”
Goodall is uplifted by the union of our community to continue the Shop with a Trooper program. Giving and receiving, making spirits bright, Christ entering to bless these little Christmas cherubs. He still needs our help as the sheer volume of children makes Shop with a Trooper increasingly hard to sustain. If you would like to give, send checks to: Kentucky State Police Shop with a Trooper: 5975 U.S. 60, Ashland, KY 41102
For more information, call KSP Trooper Shane Goodall at 606.694.5648. Leave a voicemail with your name and phone number if no answer.