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10:12 AM Tue, Sept. 18th

Shop With a Cop program helps kids in need buy Christmas gifts for family

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Radian Hart, 8, shows a pair of sparkle jeans to Prescott Animal Control Officer Shannon Gray Dec. 10, 2011, during the annual Shop with a Cop event at the Wal-Mart on Gail Gardner Way in Prescott.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Radian Hart, 8, shows a pair of sparkle jeans to Prescott Animal Control Officer Shannon Gray Dec. 10, 2011, during the annual Shop with a Cop event at the Wal-Mart on Gail Gardner Way in Prescott.

The Prescott Police Department seeks donations for Shop with a Cop, a program that promotes a good relationship between at-risk children and law enforcement officers and helps the children contribute to their family's Christmas.

"It's neat to see a program I started 15 years ago as a sergeant grow to what it is today," Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel said. "We're building a connection between officers and children, letting them know we're here to help them."

Shop with a Cop, funded solely by donations from local businesses and community members, allows children in need nominated by schools, community members, and social service agencies to receive a set amount of money to spend on needed items and gifts for their family, Prescott Police Lt. Ken Morley said.

"Our hope is for approximately 85-90 children to participate in this year's program," Morley said. "Shop with a Cop has proven to be a very worthwhile program for the children, their families, the volunteers, and the communities involved."

At last year's event, Radian, 8, looked for toys to share with her sisters and brothers as City of Prescott Animal Control Supervisor Shannon Gray admired the new shoes, jeans and shirts Radian chose for each of them.

"This is for my sisters," said Radian as she put a family of pony dolls in her cart, a toy her brothers would like, and a large box of art supplies they could all use.

As Johnny looked at shirts during Shop with a Cop two years ago, Sgt. G.R. Manera with the Arizona Department of Public Safety pointed to the cart filled with clothes, toys, and other gifts.

"He's taken care of everyone else in his family first. That's very typical of what happens," Manera said. "I've never had one kid who made this all about himself."

This year, the 15th annual Shop with a Cop will take place Saturday, Dec. 15. The event kicks off at Yavapai College in Prescott, where each child will be introduced to an officer from one of 11 agencies volunteering their time, Morley said.

The children will drive in patrol vehicles with the lights and sirens on and arrive at 7:30 a.m. at the Kmart in Prescott Valley.

Santa Claus will arrive in a Native Air Helicopter and meet the children; everyone will enjoy breakfast provided by Kmart; and then they'll shop for items with their assigned officer, Morley said. 

Last year, a shopper asked Kabbel what the officers and children were doing, and when he told her, she handed him $100 for the program.

"That's the kind of Christmas spirit that keeps this going," Kabbel said.

At about 11:30 a.m., the children and officers will return in another lights-and-siren procession to Yavapai College to meet up with their families.

An officer who participated in Shop with a Cop last year said, is was "one of the most personally gratifying things I've ever done as a police officer."

For more information about Shop with a Cop, call Sgt. Ben Scott at 777-1962 or send a donation to The Prescott Police Department, 222 S. Marina St., Prescott, AZ 86303. Checks should be made payable to the City of Prescott; include a note that it is for Shop with a Cop.