Kids ready for Shop with a Cop
Published: December 5, 2006 | 5138th good news item since 2003
Being escorted by a cop isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but for 60 lucky kids, shopping with one can be a highlight of the holiday season.
Since 1991, the Oneida Police Benevolent Association has hosted Shop with a Cop, a program designed to help needy children during the holiday season.
For its first six years, Ames hosted the event; in 1997 Shop with a Cop moved to Wal-Mart, where children and police officers have bought toys and goodies ever since.
“This year we tried to limit it from grades one through three,” said police investigator John Paul, also a member of the PBA, “but there will be some people in attendance that will be probably older because you run into situations where you might have a child in third grade who has a brother or sister in fifth grade, and it’s not necessarily fair to do one and not the other.”
The kids meet with the police officers outside Wal-Mart, where they’re each given a certain amount of money with which to shop. “If there’s an individual child, they get $100 to spend,” Paul said. “What we have done is, when there are multiple kids from the same family, it’s a little less. This year’s it’s $80 per child. So if there’s one family in particular where there’s three kids, each child gets $80, so that family gets $240.”
Money for the event comes from fundraisers and donations received throughout the year, most of which is generated by the golf tournament the PBA hosts over the summer. “That’s pretty much where 90 percent of our donations come from, and that’s primarily from local businesses who donate,” Paul said.
Paul explained that the PBA doesn’t limit the program based on money, but that they choose a certain number of children to participate. This year there are 60 children from the six area elementary schools. Each school sends a list of those students are most in need, and the PBA chooses children to participate.
“We took our list of kids who participated last year, and if there were kids who participated last year and they were on the list again this year, we passed them over so we could get to other kids who weren’t able to do it last year, just to be fair,” Paul said.
Those students chosen will spend the morning shopping at Wal-Mart with officers who volunteer to take part in the activity-and sometimes their family members, too.
“I have a sign-up list posted and I think there’s maybe 10 who have signed up so far, but spouses will come, and other family members. Our secretarial staff will come and help out; our chaplain will come with his wife, so it’s not strictly just the officers. It’s the officers and family,” Paul explained.
“Our guys don’t get paid to do Shop with a Cop,” he added. “They come on their own time, but they do wear their uniforms, because it’s Shop with a Cop, so we encourage the officers that participate to wear the uniform so that the child gets the whole effect.”