The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 9, 2013

Shop with a cop enhances children's holidays

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Police officers were on scene Saturday for a different kind of service call — holiday shopping with dozens of cheerful children.

Thirty-two students, kindergarten to third grade from four local elementary schools, all gathered Saturday with law enforcement officers from the Clinton Police Department, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and the Camanche Police Department at Bluff Elementary for the sixth annual Shop with a Cop event.

The group was split in two for the shopping extravaganza at Target and Walmart and each student was given $100, donated by sponsors, to buy anything that caught their eye.

“Each child gets $100 and they can buy anything they want, and it’s up to them when they go in there but do ask that they buy one thing for themselves,” one of the event coordinators and Citizens Police Academy Alumni Connie Brashaw said. “I find that the kids buy a lot for their families and we sometimes have to remind them that they are allowed to buy for themselves.”

From toys to clothing and electronics, kids explored all the aisles at Walmart and Target with excitement, searching for the perfect gifts for their families.

The children were not the only ones to enjoy themselves on Saturday though. Smiles were plenty from the men and women in uniform as well.

“This is a blast,” Clinton Police Officer and event liaison Shane Haskell said. “Part of the reason some of us become cops is to serve the community. This is one way that we can do that.”

After checking out with all of their goodies and nearly $3,500 spent between the two stores, both groups of shoppers headed to Bluff Elementary School to wrap all the presents bought Saturday.

The group also welcomed special guests to the school during the present wrapping portion of the day: a surprise visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

For the kids, Saturday was a fun day shopping with some new friends, but for the law enforcement officers and the event volunteers, it was an experience they knew many of those kids may not have been able to have on their own.

“For them to have a chance to do this, when maybe they couldn’t have is a great thing,” Target volunteer Megan Pray said. “To see the look on their faces when they just light up, is really amazing.”

Brashaw credits the work of all the volunteers and the outpouring of support from not only Target and Walmart, but other supporters, for the event to be a possibility.

“Every part of this has been donations,” Brashaw said. “The CPA is so thankful for all the help doing this. It’s such a blessing to watch these kids go into the store and buy anything they want.”