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About 225 lucky and excited children from low-income families got to spend time with a police officer and do some Christmas shopping Saturday in the 10th annual “Shop With Cops” event in St. Paul.
St. Paul police officers joined the children at the SuperTarget store at 1300 University Av. W. Donations to help the little ones buy gifts for their family members came from the St. Paul Police Federation, the St. Paul Police Foundation, Target and several other community and business groups.
In a partnership between local Optimist Clubs and officers from the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the Sherriff’s Department, the Annapolis Police Department and the Department of Natural Resources, children from elementary to high school were given a holiday experience they likely won’t forget Saturday morning as part of the 7th annual Shop With A Cop program.
“This is the best program we do all year,” said President of the Annapolis Optimist Club, Glen Rotner.
As a part of the program, children were escorted by officers and given a $100 gift card to spend on presents for the holidays.
Among those children, were Kyle and Noah Taylor, who walked through the front of Severn’s Wal-Mart with a little extra pep in their step. The brothers, smiling ear-to-ear, were just two of 60 children participating in the event.
Cops are warning holiday shoppers. Montgomery County Police are launching the second year of a program in hopes of keeping shoppers safe for the holiday season.
They call it “Shop with a Cop.” The program begins on Black Friday and runs until Christmas Eve. Officers across the county are on the look out for criminals at shopping centers and are offering tips on how customers can protect themselves.
They are telling shoppers not only to be aware of their surroundings, but also not to leave valuables inside their cars where criminals can spot them.
The first of what’s hoped to be many Shop With a Cop outings occurred Monday at the Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart.
The state police at Greensburg recently joined with multiple police departments and local Wal-Mart locations to reach out to children of unfortunate circumstances this past year to receive presents a little early.
“This is the first year for this, but my interest is to have it grow,” said Trooper Stephen Limani, public information officer with the state police at Greensburg, who said the program allows children to have a meet and greet with a local police officer. The children then accompany the police officer throughout the store to purchase $50 in items not including electronics.
Limani said children will be able to exchange items for other items or for different sizes if they purchased clothing, but cannot exchange items for cash.
For this first year, Limani said he was able to have Shop With a Cop events at four Wal-Mart locations including Mt. Pleasant, Latrobe, Greensburg and Delmont.
Each Wal-Mart has donated $200 gift cards for the children to use, and along with an extra $200 from another business owner in Latrobe, a total of 20 children were able to shop at those Wal-Mart locations.
“Wal-Mart went out of their way to make this happen,” said Limani, who was just recently appointed to the Greensburg barracks.
Bob Mathers, store manager of the Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart, said that an earlier jump next year will yield more children receiving gift cards for the program. Yesterday, he allowed all four children to pick out and take a coat at no charge in addition to the $50 gift certificate.
Limani said anyone interested in donating or participating in the Shop With a Cop program may call 724-832-6485.
By Mark Hofmann
Due to the holidays, I’m a few days behind on stories, but good news is good news, even when it’s a little late, so here goes….
Harley Caldwell knew where she wanted to be among the Wal-Mart aisles on Saturday morning.
The dolls were her thing as she picked out some of her Christmas gifts. Tailed by her grandfather, Harley, a 9-year-old from Wanship, wanted a Little Mommy doll as one of her gifts.
A Park City reserve police officer, Nicole Baldwin, was also with Harley on Saturday morning, watching as the girl selected the gifts as part of the Shop With a Cop program put on by the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Baldwin was one of the approximately 90 underprivileged kids who took part in the gift-giving program that teamed the kids with law enforcement officers from at least 10 local, state and federal agencies.
“No Santa. No nothing. Right to the dolls,” Baldwin said of Harley’s route once inside Wal-Mart.
The Shop With a Cop program is popular with both the kids and the officers, who say it is nice to have a chance to spend a little time with young people outside a law enforcement setting.
The officers and the kids ate breakfast at The Yarrow and then drove in a motorcade to Wal-Mart, emergency lights on and sirens blaring. Santa Claus arrived in the Wal-Mart parking lot aboard a medical helicopter, landing in a spot surrounded by the police vehicles. The kids and the officers who were with them fanned out across the store, with the toy aisles being a popular destination on Saturday.
Richard Stremke, Harley’s grandfather, said the child will receive some school clothes
and a few toys from her family on Christmas as well. She was excited as Saturday approached, he said, describing that she “talked about it for the last two days.”
“I’m sure it made a big difference. We’re not going to be able to give her much of a Christmas,” Stremke said, adding that Saturday seemed like Christmas morning because Harley was so excited.
Each of the kids received a $100 allowance on Saturday morning to spend on gifts. Many officers covered the difference with their own money if the kids went over the $100 limit.
Bob Lucking, a Park City police sergeant and the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said many of the officers had just worked overnight shifts but wanted to take part anyway.
“Nobody’s ordered to be here. They sign up for this,” Lucking said.
Churches, schools and advocates working with crime victims provided the organizers a list of names of children who would benefit from the program. Lucking said he had anticipated 60 kids taking part, but late-hour fundraising was successful and more kids were invited to Shop With a Cop.
Lucking said the organizers by Saturday had also raised half the money needed for the 2010 edition.
“This is the best day of the year for me,” Lucking said. “To see the smiles on the faces.”
By Jay Hamburger
Sometimes angels wear badges.
At least they did on Saturday when about 20 police officers volunteered to spend the morning shopping with local children at Walmart as part of the annual Shop with a Cop event.
Fremont Police Officer Bob Schultz described the event as the biggest year yet, as about 50 kids were signed up to receive free Christmas presents. Each child had the opportunity to stroll through Walmart with a police officer and choose $100 worth of toys, shoes or clothing.
“We’re just there to help them out and help them have a good time,” Schultz said.
The event encompassed Fraternal Order of Police members from throughout the county, including officers from the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Sandusky County Sheriff’s office, and the Fremont, Woodville, and Green Springs police departments.
“We’re trying to make a Christmas for someone who may not have one,” said Fremont police Chief Tim Wiersma. “This is one of the good things we can do for our community.”
Funding for the event comes from phone solicitations made by the FOP, in addition to a donation by Walmart.
“Walmart has been just fabulous over the years,” Schultz said. “Henri Martin is the assistant manager at Walmart. She and I work together on the event. Over the years, she’s been such a big help to me.”
Shop with a Cop has been going on for more than 20 years, and Martin has been assisting with it for the past eight.
“Walmart makes a donation,” Martin said. “We set up the time and make sure we have enough staff and have lots in stock.”
That full stock was heavily depleted by the end of the morning. Dozens of happy children walked out Walmart’s doors with handfuls of games, shoes and Barbie dolls.
Some of the children, like those in the McDonald family, had their gifts picked out before they arrived. As they waited for the event to begin, they talked about what they were planning to buy.
Five-year-old Tyler McDonald said he wanted a Spider-Man ball, and his twin sister Taylor said she was planning on getting a baby bed. Their 6-year-old brother Zachary said he was going to pick out a snowball blaster.
Older sister Madison, 9, was the only McDonald who hadn’t yet decided what to choose. She said she was just excited about meeting a police officer.
Five-year-old Reagan Huff chose a pink Three Musketeers dress. She said she chose it “’cause I like Barbie. It’s Barbie and the Three Musketeers.” She said the best part of the event was “that I get to buy stuff.”
Zach Rohm, 14, chose a video game.
“I knew I was going to get a video game, but I didn’t know which one,” he said. His friend Chris Steele, 11, knew exactly what he was going to get before he arrived.
“I had a list made out and everything,” said Steele, who chose wrestling toys, a shirt and a pair of shoes.
The Miller children knew just what they wanted before they arrived.
“We went shopping yesterday so we could pick it all out,” said Kevin Miller, 10, whose choices included a skateboard and mp3 player. He said it was “cool hanging out with a police officer.”
His 6-year-old sister Kylie and 11-year-old sister Alissa also had a lot of fun spending time with the police officers. Kylie came home with a doll, a laptop and a game. Alissa’s choices included clothes and an mp3 player.
Madalyna Almeida, 10, had a great time shopping with a cop.
“I was really happy,” she said. Among her toys was a Fashion Designer Kit. “You can design all different kinds of stuff. It’s probably my bestest.”
Melissa Sammons brought her daughters Jasmyn Sammons, 14, and Kortnie Sammons, 11, to the event. Jasmyn’s favorite find was a hair straightener, and Kortnie’s favorite was a Marilyn Monroe Barbie. She chose it because her family discovered last year that they are related to the famous actress.
Betty Wadsworth brought her granddaughter to Shop with a Cop.
“I just think it’s fantastic that they do all this for the children,” she said. “There’s a lot of children here that wouldn’t get a Christmas without this.”
By Sheri Trusty
LEE COUNTY, GA (WALB) – Close to a dozen officers took their days off to help kids shop for Christmas gifts.
It’s all thanks to the Fraternal Order of police. Shop with a Cop is something they’ve made possible for years.
On Saturday 61-children received gift cards, some worth as much as $100 to go shopping at Walmart.
The fraternal order of police tries to do for children to make them understand that when they talk to officers they’re talking to their friends, and we’re there to do what we can to help, Rick Heim, Fraternal Order Of Police.
The Fraternal Order police raises money through donations and car washes, this year they handed out more than $3,000 in gift cards.
By Wainright Jeffers
With five people, including herself, on her shopping list, 9-year-old Shanice Knight had a lot to ponder Thursday night.
Should I get this for my mom? How about this for my niece? And this for my nephew? Would my sister like this?
All were questions the P.W. Moore student no doubt asked herself as she shopped at the Wal-Mart Supercenter with a member of the River City Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police Thursday evening.
Shanice’s mind seemed clear about the gift she would buy herself, however.
“I’m thinking about getting an Easy Bake Oven,” she said.
Shanice was one of more than 40 local children taking part in the Cops with Kids shopping spree, River City FOP’s annual Christmas assistance program for area children.
Lt. Norman Watts of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, who is president of the FOP chapter, said Cops with Kids has been an FOP program for many years.
“When we chartered our lodge here we picked up on the program,” he said. “It gives some underprivileged kids a chance to buy presents for parents or brothers or sisters and a few things for themselves.”
Up until this year, Cops with Kids was known as Shop with a Cop. However, because of copyright concerns, River City renamed its program this year.
Cops with Kids began Thursday night — as it has in years past — at the Golden Corral on Ehringhaus Street, where youngsters signed up for the spree received a free meal and a present from Santa Claus. They then boarded police and sheriff’s cars and fire trucks for an unforgettable ride — the vehicles’ lights were flashing and sirens blaring — to the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
After arriving at Wal-Mart, the youngsters are paired up with volunteers and given carts to make a trip around the store. Each child is given a certain amount to spend onclothes as well as toys and video games.
Watts declined to say how much the FOP spent on each child this Christmas.
“There is a price range, but it’s enough to at least to give them a Christmas,” he said.
Kids get “a little bit of say” in what they buy, Watts said. The volunteers help tabulate what’s being spent as well as give helpful hints about clothes and purchases for family members.
As he has since the program started, Terry Boyce was one of the volunteers taking part in Cops with Kids Thursday night. He said his favorite part of the program is seeing the smiles on kids’ faces as they walk around the store.
“That’s what it’s all about, knowing that you’re giving to somebody,” he said. “That’s what this time of the season is all about, just giving.”
Boyce and his wife, Deann, helped two children with their Christmas shopping Thursday night. For Boyce, whose own children are grown, the experience always brings back memories.
“I was doing this back when my kids were little and it’s a good feeling,” he said.
Joining Boyce were a host of volunteers from area police and sheriff’s departments, Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services, Probation and Parole.
“They’re all working together from all different counties to work with these kids,” said Lt. John Etheridge of the Elizabeth City Police Department. “You have Camden County, Gates County, Perquimans County, the Winfall Police Department, Pasquotank County, the Wildlife Commission, probation and parole, highway patrol — they come from every walk” of law enforcement.
Watts said Wal-Mart and Golden Corral play large roles in making the program successful.
“Wal-Mart is co sponsor,” he said. “We get a community grant through them and Golden Corral gives us a significant reduction when we pay for kids and one parent’s meal.”
Only about 40 kids get the chance to participate, Watts said.
“We do an application process,” he said. “We get the word out to our members and people can go to the police department and sheriff’s department (to apply). Then we sit down and pick from a large group and narrow it down to approximately 40 kids. We try to discuss it on an as-need basis — who needs it the most. Then we have our secretary call and let them know they have been chosen.”
Watts said the economy had a negative effect on the FOP’s ability to spend as much as it would like on Cops with Kids. Even so, he believes the event was successful.
“What it does is break your heart when you have so many families and kids at your doorstep and you can only do so much,” he said. “I wish we could do it for every family, but each organization can only do so much. In the long run, we just hope we influence some kids to build a better community. That’s why we try to do what we do.”
By Toby Tate
Christmas came early for a group of nearly 60 kids from a local shelter on Thursday, with dozens of Irvine Police personnel helping them find the perfect gift as part of the annual Shop-With-A-Cop event.
Sponsored by Irvine Police, Human Options and Team Kids, the event brought together a variety of local businesses and outreach groups, including:
•Stonefire Grill, who contributed a buffet dinner and $100 gift card for each child,
•Target, who donated $50 gift cards for each child,
•Police employees, who contributed their own time, and in some cases money,
•Barnes and Noble, who provided new books for the kids.
•The Chuck Jones Center of Creativity, who provided cartoon art for the kids.
Volunteers described the Shop-With-A-Cop event as a moving experience.
“During the shopping event and throughout the evening, our officers and professional staff strove to build trusting relationships through a demonstration of compassion, understanding and support for these children,” Irvine Police Cmdr. Mike Hamel said. “We are hopeful the relationships we formed during this annual event will have a lasting impact on these children and their confidence in the law enforcement community to serve and protect them.”
By Sean Emery
The Clarksville Police Department in conjunction with the Fraternal Order of Police sponsored simultaneous shopping sprees at the three local Wal-Mart stores for 75 children from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. Each child was given $100.00 to use for Christmas shopping. Clarksville Police Department Officers and Explorers assisted the children with shopping.
The Salvation Army Angel Tree program helps low income parents give their children a Christmas they would not otherwise have been able to provide on their own. Every child deserves an amazing Christmas! To help the Salvation Army in their various missions you can drop a donation by their thrift store (210 Kraft St), or give at the bell ringer outside your favorite stores! They can really use your help!