Shop with a Cop gears up for December event
The Prescott Police Department seeks donations for Shop with a Cop, a program that pairs local children in need with local law enforcement officers who help them shop for holiday gifts for their family.
"This program fosters a positive relationship between the officers and children, while also allowing children to provide for and contribute to their families' Christmas," said Lt. Andy Reinhardt, Prescott Police Department spokesman.
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 for the past 14 years, said Sgt. Georgia Davies of the Prescott Police Department.
"This is a huge volunteer effort," Davies said. "Volunteers wrap the children's presents, donate breakfast for the children, and people and businesses in the community also fill goodie bags for the children."
Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel said he started the Shop with a Cop program here 14 years ago, to foster community policing, help out the less fortunate and build a connection between officers and children.
During last year's event, as one boy, Devon, searched the book aisle, Prescott Valley Police Officer James Tobin said it was like a reunion for them, since he had Devon in his DARE class two years prior.
"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.
Last year, a boy, Delano, showed off a jacket and shoes he'd chosen for his sister with the help of his partner, Veterans Affairs Police Officer Jim McBride.
"While it's good to see a toy in the cart, you'll notice many kids have socks, shoes and jackets in their carts," Kabbel said. "Many of these children live with pressures most people do not have."
On Dec. 10, about 80 children will meet an officer volunteering their time at Glassford Hill Middle School in Prescott Valley, and at 7:30 a.m. will drive in a procession of patrol cars with lights flashing and sirens going off to the Walmart on Gail Gardner Way in Prescott, Davies said.
The procession will travel westbound on Highway 69 to Sheldon Street to northbound Montezuma where the procession will continue on Iron Springs to the Walmart on Gail Gardner Way.
Santa Claus will fly in on a Native Air helicopter and meet children in the parking lot, then go inside to have breakfast with them and visit with them before they shop.
Mascots like Burnie from the Arizona Sundogs, Eddie the Eagle, Deputy Do-Right and Smokey the Bear will visit with the children while they shop with officers from 11 state and local law enforcement agencies.
At 11:30 a.m., the children and officers will return to Glassford Hill Middle School in another lights and siren procession.
Anyone interested in making a donation to Shop with a Cop is encouraged to call Sgt. Davies at (928) 777-1962.