Shop with a cop brings holiday cheer
December 14, 2015
Texarkana’s annual Shop with a Cop event took place at Target on Dec. 8. This program has been existent in the city for almost thirty years, and partners the Texarkana Police Department with Target and CPS to help children in need.
“We help set up the event, and coordinate with police officers,” Target associate Renae Booker said. “Apart from that, the rest is on other organizations.”
CPS services in Texarkana pick 100 children to participate in the program. These children are chosen based on financial need.
“For a lot of these kids, this is the only Christmas they’ll have,” Assistant Chief of Police Kevin Schutte. “We get to bring not only gifts, but a smile to these kids’ faces.”
The police department does fundraisers throughout the year in preparation for this day and collaborates with Target to host it. Each child is given a $100 gift card to spend in the store.
“Target is a great friend in this project,” Crime Prevention Coordinator Shaun Vaughn said. “They basically have all their stuff handled in-store, and they give us a grant as well to cover some of the cost.”
The kids usually use the money they are given to purchase clothes, toys and other things they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.
“I’m getting outfits because I’m a girl,” Kilpatrick student Chloe Campbell said. “I’m super excited for my new outfits so I won’t have to wear the same things to school.”
At the beginning of the event, each child is paired up with either a cop, fireman or associate member of the Target team to help them shop.
“My cop was really good with me, and helpful,” Simms student Breanne Crowe said. “I’m really excited about my shoes and the toys I got.”
Though the hundred children that participate in the program are obviously thankful and full of excitement for the day, it can be said that the officers who shop with the children are the most joyful. They were all kind and willing to maneuver the crowds in order to grab a specific doll off of the shelf.
“You get to watch these kids interact with police officers,” Schutte said. “So many times parents threaten their kids with us, but we should let the kids know we’re their friends. That way, when they ever need help, they won’t be afraid to come ask.”
It’s no surprise that this program has been continued for so long. It provides a way to help others in the community around the holidays, when it is often difficult for others to find joy. Those involved in this event speak constantly on the benefits of participating annually in Shop with a Cop.
“To me it’s the start of the Christmas season,” Vaughn said. “It’s the spirit of the season; it’s giving something back to the community and doing something nice for someone else.”