Cape Shop with a Hero Marks 30 Years

Det. James Muleahy of the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office has volunteered for 20 plus years at Shop with a Hero. Ayla Smith gives a big smile holding a favorite toy selected.

The Cape "Shop with a Hero" program held at the Cape Walmart Supercenter is celebrating 30 years. "This event is one that I look forward to every year. Almost every first responder sets out to make a positive difference in someone's life. While getting to know the children while shopping is great, being able to experience the joy, smiles, and generosity of the children and knowing we are able to make a child's Christmas brighter while positively impacting families in our community is priceless!," says Johnny Spencer, president of the Cape Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 51. "We know what this means to the participants and that makes us work harder to make it happen," says Valerie Wondrick, Cape Walmart associate who has been the event coordinator for 27 years. Funds are raised through donations by local businesses including Walmart but the heroes (law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders) hold events to raise money themselves. "We're glad to donate to this event through our Walmart Foundation grants," says Tim Spinks, Cape Walmart Supercenter Store Manager. "This year our store along with the Cape Neighborhood Market and Sams donated $3,500. But we have to recognize the Scott City Police and Fire Departments especially their 911 operator Cindy Dirden for their great effort bringing in over $6000 from their community." Wondrick added Cape Girardeau Private Ambulance Service donates $1200 or more each year which is the equivalent of sponsoring a school. Local restaurant chains like Burger King, McDonald's, and Arby's also donate free meal coupons for each child. This year's event had 108 names of needy children submitted by schools with $120 available for each child who shopped.

A child asks for a hug from her Hero, Officer Arman Clark, at the end of her shopping during Shop with a Hero.
Highway Patrolman Jeff McCullough, a 15+ year SWAH volunteer, along with fellow officer Dylon Wyatt in background help the kids fill their carts.
Cape Walmart Supercenter recognizes three associates with service pins for their longtime volunteer participation in the Shop with a Hero event. From left, Valerie Wondrick, Mary Baker, and Cindy Vetter.
Scott City Officer Brittany Johnson begins shopping with sisters Amylia and Alaina Lamont at the Shop with a Hero event at Walmart Supercenter.