Originally Published: December 14, 2015 6 a.m.
Children were treated to a shopping spree at the Wal-Mart along Highway 69 on Saturday, Dec. 12, for the 18th annual Shop with a Cop. The program pairs law enforcement officers with children to give them an opportunity to see officers in a non-threatening situation, according to a news release. The idea is to foster a positive relationship between the two, while also allowing the children to contribute to their family's Christmas. Overall, 85 children ages 7 to 12 participated in the event. Officers from 10 state and local law enforcement agencies were present to partner with the kids. "It's one of the best things we do all year long," said Lt. Jon Brambila with the Prescott Police Department. "I enjoy it every year." Brambila has participated in the event the last 17 years. His partner in shopping this year was 7-year-old Addy Smith. "That's what I want," Addy said, pointing to a $99 interactive unicorn toy. After talking it over with Brambila on whether she's sure she wanted the unicorn, however Addy ended up settling for a $50 interactive dog toy instead. Each child was allotted $275 to purchase whatever they wanted. All of the money used for the children was donated from Quad Cities citizens, organizations and businesses. Some parents worked with their children to formulate wish lists and indicated what type of items are off limits, but once there, the kids were pretty much given free rein."We definitely try to let them have fun and get some toys," Brambila said. "The officers are good about steering the children away from things the parents don't want their kid getting." Eight-year-old Tim Walley's parents listed clothing on his wish list, but Tim had other things in mind for his $275. "That's like the only thing they put on here and he won't go anywhere near the clothing aisles," said Josh McDonnell with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, who was paired with Tim. Instead, Tim ended up with a Star Wars coloring set, a lock box, a tablet and a three-foot tall talking Star Wars Stormtrooper, all from Tim to Tim. "I knew what I wanted," Tim said. "I was just like, get this, get this, get this." After purchasing the items, the children took their toys over to a gift wrapping station within the Wal-Mart manned by cheerleaders from Bradshaw and Prescott high schools. The cheerleaders, along with a few of Bradshaw High School's football players, also helped the officers and their assigned children pick out gifts and find their way through the supercenter. "I think this is the first time for the football team to be doing it too," said Adolfo Mendoza, wide receiver for the Bradshaw Mountain Bears. "It's a cool event." There was also a Santa Claus brought in by a firetruck, and local mascots such as Eddie Eagle, Deputy Do-Right, Smokey Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog made surprise visits throughout the morning as well. Breakfast was provided by Wal-Mart and McDonald's. Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105, or 928-642-7864.