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Thu, Aug. 22

Program in its 11th year, help a child 'Shop with a Cop'

File photo/The Daily Courier<br>
Prescott Sgt. Amy Bonney, left, helps Brittany Whitlock with shopping during the 2006 Shop with a Cop program, the annual shopping excursion that pairs children and police officers.

File photo/The Daily Courier<br> Prescott Sgt. Amy Bonney, left, helps Brittany Whitlock with shopping during the 2006 Shop with a Cop program, the annual shopping excursion that pairs children and police officers.

Putting a smile on the face of a child whose Christmas otherwise would be pretty bleak is the goal of the 11th annual Shop with a Cop program.

This year's event will take place Dec. 13 at the Prescott Valley Kmart. Organizers are hoping to help even more than the 77 children who got to shop last year, said Michelle Medina, community services secretary at the Prescott Police Department.

To do that, they need donations. Community members may mail their contributions to Sgt. Ben Scott, Prescott Police Department, 222 S. Marina St., Prescott, AZ 86303. Make the checks out to "Shop with a Cop."

The program pairs a child with a local law enforcement officer for a morning of breakfast and holiday shopping. This year 13 different agencies are helping, including Arizona Game and Fish, Liquor Control and the FBI, as well as local police and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, Medina said.

Each "helper" gets a "cheat sheet" of sorts, Medina said, to help guide the child they pair up with in his or her purchases.

"These kids are in desperate need," Medina said. The children often buy non-gift items the entire family needs.

YCSO's Sgt. Mark Howard partnered with a child during a previous Shop with a Cop.

"He was a really nice kid," Howard recalled. "I let him play with the siren all the way over."

Howard encourages other officers to join in if their schedules permit.

"It was a good thing to do," he said. "I enjoyed it more than I thought I would."

The children and their helpers will meet this year at 7 a.m. at Yavapai College and then head down Highway 69 in a colorful caravan of police cars with lights and sirens blasting.

"It's pretty exciting," Medina said. "It gives you goose bumps to see it."

The program helps boost the children's self-esteem and lets them see law enforcement officers in a positive setting. It also promotes the child's decision-making abilities and helps them learn how good it feels to help provide for their own families.

Schools and area non-profit agencies refer children to the program.

Contact the reporter at tshultz@prescottaz.com

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