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Kinsley Tatakis, 3, left, and Kyla Falcione, 3, right, try out their new bicycles during Shop with a Cop at the Ashtabula Township Walmart on Saturday morning.

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Two 3-year-old children were eager to try out their new bicycles on Saturday morning during “Shop with a Cop” at Walmart.

Kinsley Tatakis, 3, and Kyla Falcione, 3, raced down the front of the store after checking out, with a bit of encouragement from a smiling sheriff’s deputy.

Amy Falcione, the girls’ mother, said the program is a great way for children in the custody of the Ashtabula County Children Services department to see law enforcement in a positive light. She said it is important for children who have to work through challenging situations in their lives.

ACCS Executive Director Tania Burnett said the event is always an important part of the holiday season. She said 28 children had the opportunity to select gifts due to the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department Lodge 106 program.

Burnett said there are about 135 children in custody of the organization, but many more are living with family members through the Kinship program which helps family members, often grandparents, care for the children.

“We are trying to keep them with their families,” Burnett said.

“We have been doing this for the last 20 to 25 years, and I don’t miss one,” said Ashtabula County Sheriff William Niemi.

He said each child was able to spend $100 on things for themselves, but deputies often pay for more if the children has specific things they want.

The program is partially funded through “No Shave November,” where deputies are allowed to grow facial hair if they donate to the program, Niemi said.

“It is a wonderful feeling to see children with smiles on their faces,” Niemi said.

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