Local heroes looking to help local children in need this holiday season are asking for the public to step up.
The Town and City of Beloit's police and fire departments are joining forces for the 19th annual Greater Beloit Shop with a Hero event. This year, the agencies hope to raise enough funds to help 225 kids during the Dec. 7 event at Walmart, 2785 Milwaukee Road.
New this year for the Beloit event will be having a National Guard member from the Beloit post help kids shop for themselves and family.
Over the border in South Beloit, the city's police and fire departments are teaming up for Shop With A Badge this year after successful events in 2017 and 2018. This year's event is set for the morning Dec. 14 at Blain's Farm & Fleet, 4567 E. Rockton Road, Roscoe. Chief Adam Truman says the departments want to help 25 kids this year. Truman said a moonlight bowling fundraiser will be held Nov. 15 at Viking Lanes starting at 9 p.m. at $30 per couple. The event will have raffles and 50/50 drawings. Those interested in attending can register at the police department or fire department in South Beloit.
"It's really great to interact with the families and it's a great opportunity to help people out," Truman said.
School districts in Beloit, Town of Beloit and South Beloit identify families with children in need and provide the departments with a list of kids who are contacted to participate.
Officials want to remind the public that only children contacted by the department and selected by the school district can participate.
Town of Beloit Patrol Officer Chris Regenauer, who helps organize the event for the heroes on the Wisconsin side of the border, said planning for the special morning filled with holiday shopping requires year-round planning.
"It might only be for a morning, but I am thinking about it all year and it takes a lot of preparation," he said.
He called the event "the best part" of his job as a patrol officer.
"They have so much excitement," Regenauer said of the kids. "It's a great program and it really has the ability to pull at your heart strings. You really see the positive impact on the kids."
He said that carries over to the parents, as well.
"They are always extremely appreciative for the opportunity," Regenauer said. "The entire morning is all about the kids."