Eight children from three families had the opportunity to shop for some of their ideal Christmas gifts last weekend, each accompanied by their own personal police escort while their parents shopped …
Eight children from three families had the opportunity to shop for some of their ideal Christmas gifts last weekend, each accompanied by their own personal police escort while their parents shopped for a Christmas dinner.
The Truesdale Police Department sponsored three low-income families this year to participate in its annual Shop With A Cop program. Families met with the officers at the Walmart in Warrenton, where police helped kids pick out toys, sports gear, clothes, and personal treats.
Officer Scott Taylor said the program offers a chance for police to provide a positive experience that shows struggling families that people in their community care.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our job we see people at their worst, in times of crisis. This gives us an opportunity to get with kids and families and show them we’re there not just in times of crisis,” Taylor said. “I’ve been in law enforcement almost 20 years, and these are the best part of being in law enforcement. This time of year, taking kids out and making a difference.”
Taylor said working to build positive relations in the community is part of the police department’s mission of service. It’s also a chance for other residents, groups and businesses to be part of something that brings a little happiness to their neighbors. All of the money for Shop With A Cop came from community fundraising.
“We’re flooded with phone calls and text messages saying ‘We want to help.’ There really is a lot of good in humanity. People are willing to help so much,” Taylor said.
That same generosity is even evident in the children who go shopping. Many of them try to spend part of their shopping money on gifts for their whole family, although officers encourage them to focus on getting nice things for themselves that they wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy. At least one shopper this year bought a toy and treats for the family dog to make sure she wasn’t left out.
This year Truesdale police officers and city staff members collected about $3,600 in donations, said City Clerk Elsa Smith-Fernandez. That’s about four times as much as when Truesdale started its local Shop With A Cop program in 2019.
The money came from about 20 area businesses and individuals, along with dozens of community members who donated at Truesdale’s community Christmas event on Dec. 4.
“It really is humbling to see how people are pouring back into their community, seeing how they care about these things and put their money where their mouth is,” Smith-Fernandez said. “It makes us proud to be part of this community, to do things like this and spread a little cheer. People are struggling right now, both financially and emotionally, and if we can offer any help with that, we want to do it.”
Enough money was donated that officers are considering whether they are able to do another round of shopping with another family this coming weekend. They hope they can keep growing the program to give to families who don’t have much.
“I grew up a poor kid. I had to have help when we were growing up,” Officer Taylor commented. “This gives us an opportunity to give back.”
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