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About 60 youths were paired with police officers Sunday as they searched for Christmas gifts during the second annual “Shop with a Cop” event.
Children and officers strolled the aisles of Target at Sangertown Square in the event sponsored by the Thomas M. Lindsey Foundation. The event is a way for police to connect in a positive way with the community, said foundation President Donald Cinque, a Utica police sergeant.
“We need the community as much as they need the police,” he said.
The annual Shop With a Cop event took place on Saturday at Kmart.
Over 20 disadvantaged kids got their holiday shopping taken care of with a little help from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the Roseburg, Myrtle Creek, Sutherlin and Winston police departments.
The children were paired up with a law enforcement official, or in some cases, even two. Then, the kids got to roam the store and pick out presents for their loved ones, with a little help from their personal shoppers.
Some kids came with detailed lists, while others just wandered around, trying to find something just right for their friends and family.
One of the young shoppers said this was her first year taking part in the program, and she loved every minute of it. “I think it’s really cool, because it’s, like, awesome,” said Chelcey Cousineau.
Some Saturday mornings are perfect; none more so than when a bunch of underprivileged kids get to go Christmas shopping during the season’s first snowfall.
Shop with a Cop, a growing phenomenon in the western suburbs, came to the Bloomingdale Meijer on Gary Avenue Saturday.
“This is about helping these families in need,” DuPage County Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Groh said as the first of 80 squad cars pulled up with children from all over the county.
Beginning about 15 years ago, the Sheriff’s Department began sponsoring the holiday shopping trips. The idea was that the kids would get a shopping trip that might be beyond the family’s means, and at the same time they could bond with a member of law enforcement.
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