Michael Harper and Jennifer Erdley, members of the Honorary Deputy Sheriff's Association, play a key role in Shop with a Hero event — as they show up with the debit card. 

There are all kinds of heroes, some in the military and others who run into burning buildings. In Woodland Park, however, a shopping squadron, heroes all, plays Santa Claus for three days this month.

An event sponsored by the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Shop with a Hero mobilizes firefighters, paramedics, police officers and deputies to take 171 kids shopping for Christmas presents at Walmart.

“We’re going to have fire trucks, police cars out there with all the lights on,” said Teller County Deputy Renee Bunting.

It’s a three-day event, Dec. 13-15; each day begins with breakfast at McDonald’s and proceeds to Walmart where kids get to pick out their favorite toy.

“We have so many agencies helping us because there’s a huge need this year,” Bunting said.

The children are referred to the association, a nonprofit organization, by the Department of Human Services, the Aspen Mine Center, Community Cupboard and Community Partnership.

In its seventh year, the shopping excursions put smiles on little faces. Last year, for instance, five children in one family wanted bicycles but were all sick during that three-day period. At the same time, funds were running low but members of the HDSA spread the word. “People brought in money for us to buy bikes for the whole family,” Bunting said. “We loaded the bikes into the squad cars and brought them to their house.”

The main sponsors of this year’s Shop with a Hero are Newmont Goldcorp, Walmart and Charis Bible College. In addition, private donors Rusty Neil, Black Mountain Pump Service, Elk Valley Electric, David and Rebecca Wiley helped bring the grand shopping total to $10,000.

HDSA members Jennifer Erdley and Michael Harper will be on hand with the debit card at the check stand.

The shopping heroes represent the fire departments of Green Mountain Falls/Chipita Park, Cripple Creek,Divide, Florissant, Victor and Northeast Teller County, along with Ute Pass Regional Health Services District, police departments from Green Mountain Falls, Cripple Creek, Fountain and Fort Carson, and Colorado State Patrol and Teller County Sheriff’s Office.

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