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Community Heroes Shop With Local Students

Today, the annual Community Heroes for the Holidays event took place with local first responders walking side-by-side with over 50 students from the Putnam County School System (PCSS) students for holiday shopping thanks to funding provided by partners Academy Sports + Outdoors and  Nissan of Cookeville. 

“The Cookeville Police Department began partnering with the local Academy Sports + Outdoors when their store opened in 2018. That partnership has grown over the last four years. In 2021, the shopping event coincided with National First Responder Day, and Academy Sports + Outdoors approached the department with funds to take local kids shopping, providing $2,000 in gift cards,” said Sgt. Mike Herrick. “We began working with school counselors in the PCSS to identify kids who would enjoy this opportunity.  This year, we continued the partnership with Academy Sports + Outdoors and the PCSS and were contacted by another corporation with a heart for the same mission.”

Shane Nelson, Academy Sports + Outdoors Store Director, shared their mission behind the importance of this event, “This has and will continue to be an annual event for Academy Sports + Outdoors. Our store is works hard to find ways to give back to the community and to partner with first responders. This event allows us to do that and spread holiday cheer. It is an event we want to continue to do.”

Putnam County School System Student Services Supervisor Dr. Trey Upchurch added, “This is just a fun day for these students. We are thankful to Sgt. Herrick for working to arrange this special day with our school counselors and to Academy Sports + Outdoors and Nissan of Cookeville for giving to make it possible. This day warms your heart in the biggest way as you see the student’s faces light up while walking around the store. To see first responders engaging with students, I hope this continues for many years.”

On this cool December morning,  PCSS transportation bused over 50 kids from across the county for their shopping spree just a little after school started.  The local Academy Sports + Outdoor store opened an hour before regular business hours, giving the kids more one-on-one time to shop alongside local first responders. Today, students received even more than they could imagine as a new partner joined the efforts to take students holiday shopping.

“I was contacted by Nissan of Cookeville about doing a holiday shopping spree for students. To build on the partnership with Academy Sports + Outdoors, we decided to continue the shopping spree at Academy. Nissan of Cookeville donated $10,000 to the event. We were incredibly humbled and grateful for their donations,” said Sgt. Herrick.

Together, the two corporations provided $12,000 to split between the students.

Brady Bush, General Sales manager at Nissan of Cookeville, added, “We are honored to sponsor Community Heroes for the Holidays. We are grateful to the Putnam County School System and the Cookeville Police Department for arranging an event that positively impacts the lives of our local youth. The joy on their faces will forever be etched in our memories. We hope this occasion fills the heart of all the participants with the holiday spirit, and may this continue to be an annual tradition for years to come.”

Sergeant Herrick added, “With all the partnerships from local corporations, the school system, the police department, and local first responders, we are all heroes within the community to our youth.  Again, we are thankful for everyone who helped make this event possible for these students.”

Students shopped with smiles on their faces grateful to be a part of Community Heroes for the Holidays.

“My day has been great and joyful,” said Ammira Parker, sophmore at Cookeville High School.

Fourth grader from Burks Elementary, Amanda Lorenzo added, “This was the best day because I was picked to come here.”