When Mary Catherine Tennant heard the Shop with a Cop program was looking for people to save their holiday gift bags two years ago, she told everyone she knew.
Tennant ended up with 120 bags, which she hand-decorated and gave to the program that pairs local children in need with law enforcement officers who help them shop for holiday gifts for their family.
"This year, I put out the word to more people," said Tennant, president of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Alumni Association. "And next Wednesday, Embry-Riddle students can come into the alumni office on campus, decorate a bag and get a burger."
Tennant said she's amazed by just how many people Shop with a Cop has touched.
"It's such a valuable program, and such a positive reinforcement for kids today about how helpful police officers are," Tennant said.
Volunteers who wrap the children's presents, donate breakfast for them and fill goodie bags for them are so important to Shop with a Cop, said Sgt. Georgia Davies of the Prescott Police Department.
"It's so good what the police can do with the help of the community," said Tony White, who has volunteered with Shop with a Cop for several years. "It's a wonderful experience, and I wish we could do more year-round."
Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel said he started Shop with a Cop here 14 years ago to foster community policing, help out the less fortunate and build a connection between officers and children.
"We're also instilling values, like sharing, responsibility, putting other people in your family first, and budgeting to stay within the amount they have to spend," Kabbel said.
Shop with a Cop, funded solely by donations from local businesses and community members, has helped brighten the holidays for hundreds of needy children nominated by their schools and social service agencies, Davies said.
This year, Shop with a Cop takes place on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Walmart on Gail Gardner Way, Davies said.
"So many people see us out shopping with the kids and give us donations for the program right there and then," Davies said, noting those donations go into the program for next year. "It's so touching."
This year, 165 children were nominated and a committee chose 85 to take part, said Lt. Andy Reinhardt, spokesman for the Prescott Police Department.
The officers who shop with the children volunteer their time, and other officers work their shifts for them, Kabbel said.
Last year, YCSO Sgt. Hope Boldt was shopping with a boy named Jordan, who told her he wanted to get her something. Boldt told him thank you but no, and that he should focus on his family and himself. Jordan selected a board game for the whole family to play together.
"He's such a special, wonderful kid," Boldt said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to Shop with a Cop is encouraged to call Sgt. Davies at (928) 777-1962 or to send the donation to The Prescott Police Department at 222 S. Marina St., Prescott, AZ 86303. Davies said people should make their checks payable to the City of Prescott and note that it is for Shop with a Cop.