Officers take kids on shopping spree

Published: January 17, 2008 | 6919th good news item since 2003

At the front of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in North Little Rock, the single mothers and their children lined up with their carts.

As part of the Shop With A Cop program, each family would be matched with a North Little Rock police officer for a morning of Christmas shopping. The police would pick up the tab — $ 150 for each child.

Officer Tommy Norman, the program’s organizer, offered a word of caution.

“If a police officer asks you to buy him doughnuts, don’t do it,” he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Over the next two hours, a dozen children filled their shopping carts with clothes and toys. Next weekend, 10 more children will get their turn.

Norman said he and his fellow officers had been looking forward to the trip.

“I woke up at 3 o’clock this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep, I was so excited — and I’m not even shopping,” Norman said.

This is the second year for the program, which Norman started after reading about a similar initiative in Champaign, Ill. The families of single, working mothers are eligible. Some were nominated by friends or co-workers. Others went to the Police Department asking for help.

The money for the gifts was from private donations, including $ 1, 200 from a penny drive at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in North Little Rock. Members of the student government group showed up Sunday, helping load the families’ shopping carts and wrapping the gifts after they checked out.

Other money came from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., First United Methodist Church of North Little Rock, Coulson Oil Co., the Argenta Men’s Club and the Arkansas National Guard recruiting office.

Eight police officers showed up in uniform but off-duty, volunteering their time.

“This is just a way for the North Little Rock Police Department to show the children of North Little Rock that we care about them and we’re their friends,” Norman said.

Davina Kelley, a 25-year-old market research company worker, was prepared. She had taken her two children, Aayana, 5, and Amare, 4, to the store a few days earlier and made a list of gifts, making sure the prices added up to $ 150.

But as Aayana and Amare wandered the aisles Sunday, Kelley quickly gave up on the list.

“They just basically went on what they wanted,” she said.

Amare loaded up on Spider-Man toys. For Aayana, it was Bratz. She also found a My Little Pony doll that talks and wiggles when its hoof is pressed.

“She’s going to carry that everywhere, I think,” Kelley said.

Juseria Lovelace, 10, picked out a digital music player, some clothes and Pete the Repeat Parrot, that repeats whatever he hears.

Published in Cops
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