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By DAMON LAWRENCE
Red and white are usually the colors that come to mind when most youngsters think of Santa Claus.
This past Saturday, however, Santa wore brown and olive and came dressed as the Tennessee Highway Patrol for one Roane County family.
Courtesy of money raised by the highway patrol, a group of siblings was allowed to go on a $100 shopping spree for Christmas.
Troopers Teresa Brown, Angie Jeffers, Keith Stout and Gary Snow served as escorts for the young shoppers.
“It helps the kids and makes sure they have a good Christmas,” THP chaplain Don Long said.
Long said the program has been around for about a year and a half and is called Helping Hands Ministry.
“It’s where the Tennessee Highway Patrol raise money within the troopers, and they find families that’s in need for the holidays,” Long said. “A lot of the troopers have spread the word amongst each other, and they willingly give.”
Brothers Daniel Frost and Cody Watson spent most of their time in the toy section at Wal-Mart with troopers Stout and Snow. Daniel, 11, and Cody, 9, enjoyed the shopping. They picked up several items, including a pair of toy handcuffs.
Unless you are in harms way, a state trooper is sometimes the last person you want to see. Long and THP Sgt. Mike Melhorn said the Helping Hands program shows that troopers aren’t just about writing tickets and conducting sobriety checkpoints. They’re also in the business of bring-ing holiday cheer to those in need. Melhorn said the program has benefitted families in a number of counties, including Roane, Morgan and Scott.
“ It’s good for the troopers and it’s good for the families,” Long said. “There’s a lot of families that can be helped, and it helps the communities see the state troopers in a different light.”