‘Shop with a Cop’ program seeks donations to help kids enjoy Christmas

SMYRNA — Local law enforcement is banking on community generosity to again brighten the lives of needy children during the Christmas holiday.

For the third time since 2006, Smyrna police will host their “Shop with a Cop” program that brings kids and police officers together for lunch and a shopping trip to purchase gifts and necessities not otherwise affordable.

This year’s event will be held Dec. 12. Smyrna and Clayton police departments have a fundraising goal of $2,000 and are asking for the public’s assistance. Last year’s goal of $1,000 generated nearly $3,500 in contributions.

“This year we set the bar slightly higher at $2,000 as a goal and if we raise more than that, that only allows us again to help more children,” Smyrna PD spokesman Cpl. Brandon Dunning said.

Smyrna Police Chief Norman Wood with one of the local children at last year’s “Shop with a Cop” event. (Submitted photo/Smyrna Police Department)

Smyrna Police Chief Norman Wood with one of the local children at last year’s “Shop with a Cop” event. (Submitted photo/Smyrna Police Department)

Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/sb5xqays. More information is available on the Smyrna Police Department Facebook page or website at www.smyrnapolice.org.

Kids in the program will see the human side of police officers when they are not on duty, according to Smyrna Police Chief Norman Wood.

“It gives us a chance to interact with the children in a positive, personal manner rather than just seeing us during a call for service,” Chief Wood said. “It also gives children a chance to obtain needed things that they may not have been able to get otherwise.

“Times are still financially tough for a lot of families and the go-fund-me account allows citizens to have a part and donate to those less fortunate.”

Participation can boost an officer’s outlook as well, according to Chief Wood.

“During the event last year, I’m not sure who had more fun, the children or the officers,” Chief Wood said.

“Personally, I had a blast and look forward to doing it again this year.”

An annual tradition

The hope is that the program will become an annual tradition, police said.

“The program is supported by donations from the public and individual officers within the Smyrna and Clayton police departments, the success of this program relies heavily on the generosity of the citizens within our communities as well as those outside willing to contribute,” Cpl. Dunning said.

“This program is about so many more things then just toys — we are able to build relationships in a short amount of time with children who often only interact with police officers in negative situations, we are able to share a hearty meal together which in some cases these children often do not receive, we require that each participant ‘pay it forward’ and purchase a gift for another and share in their experience and we also require they purchase items of necessity, often clothing and shoes.”

Cpl. Dunning said Clayton Police Department is a natural fit to participate as well.

“Because of their close proximity and so many similarities of our communities and towns it seemed logical to offer them a chance to partner with us in this great event,” he said.

“They have been a great support and last year had the majority of their department involved with this program/event.”

Participating kids must live in the town limits of Smyrna or Clayton, 7 to 12 years old and accompanied by a parent or guardian during the event.

Applications are accepted from teachers, family members, social workers, counselors, and anyone who feels that a child would benefit from this experience, Cpl. Dunning said.

“We do our best to select children who otherwise would not have the typical holiday experience because of a variety of circumstances typically outside of their control,” Cpl. Dunning said.

Application pickup

Applications can be picked up any time in the Smyrna Police Department front lobby at 325 W. Glenwood Ave., and must be completed and submitted by Dec. 4. Police said all chosen applicants will be notified before the event.

In 2014, 27 children took part, fueled by the money raised and availability to take part in the event, Cpl. Dunning said.

Police said Pat’s Select Pizza and Grill in Smyrna will provide a fully catered lunch for all the participants and officers. Last year, Wal-Mart in Cheswold provided support staff and dedicated checkout lines to the event, police said.

“This year, we once again we will provide the participants with a great meal and chance to interact with the officers prior to the shopping experience,” Cpl. Dunning said.

The amount of money available to each participant will depend on the amount of money raised, police said.

“The more money we raise the more children will have an opportunity to participate in this great event,” Cpl. Dunning said.

Cpl. Dunning said 16 officers participated last year.

“Each officer is donating his/her time to give back and hopefully make an impact on a child’s day, holiday season, or memory for a lifetime,” Cpl. Dunning said.

“For each one of our officers who participate this is such a rewarding experience to be able to put a smile on child’s face and hopefully make an impact on their lives.

“I have seen more times than not that officers will go above and beyond to make sure all the items the child wants or needs ends up in their cart, this just speaks volumes about our officers from both departments that participate.”

Facebook Comment