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Shop With a Cop brings blessings and heals relations

Story by Langley Leverett, editor in chief

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Children line the concrete sidewalks outside of Target, every head turning in one direction, waiting in excited suspense for what is to come. As the atmosphere is charged with anticipation, the sirens swell louder as the police and firefighters vehicles draw nearer. The first cop car comes into view, and a child begins to giggle, their eyes lighting up like Christmas lights.

Today Target hosted the annual Shop With a Cop event, which aids in providing disadvantaged families with Christmas presents, food, clothes and any necessities a child might need. Police and firefighters from Nash to Dekalb volunteer their mornings in order to help families and make a lasting impression with the children.

“It’s the blessing of people connecting across what sometimes seems to be a divide to help build community relationships and something wonderful. Just looking at these children and their smiles, and the officer’s whose hearts are being transformed by this experience, it’s such a wonderful thing,” volunteer Brad Morgan said. “It blesses these children and helps the officers remember why they protect and serve us the way they do. These officers make amazing sacrifices on our behalf and do phenomenal things. This is my first year to attend and it’s been very moving for me to see.”

For a single mother of four, this event overwhelmed her heart in more ways than one.

Photo by Alexis Runnels
Texarkana officer Sartor playfully holds a child who was shopping at the annual “Shop with a Cop” event. This program helped over 100 families receive Christmas gifts and necessities.

“It means everything. I’m a single mom, I couldn’t afford Christmas. We just moved down here in June, and we barely got furniture,” parent Samantha Wheeler said. “I didn’t think they would have any Christmas, so it means a lot. I just appreciate it. Some people really need this; some kids don’t have a Christmas, mine wouldn’t until this came about.”

Texarkana ISD Policemen also shared their experiences, and hope that they can be in assistance to help children shape their futures.

“It’s a good time to help the kids, look at the smiles on their faces. It’s a fun experience, being able to help make their Christmas days. They were really eager to shop, it’s been a good time,” TISD officer Kelly Ryan said. “It helps the kids to see that police aren’t the bad guys, and a lot of times in the news, that’s all you see. It’s all the media puts out there. A lot of the times, the police are doing this and that, and the community is in uproar, but it’s not all like that. I try and help them, you know if I’m doing a transport or something like that, I’ll ask them about what happened, and try and help them to avoid that situation going forward. The more information they have about stuff, the better decision they can make.”

Policemen who volunteered their time want to leave the event knowing they changed the fearful opinions of cops that some children may have.

“Being a father, this time a year, knowing that some kids don’t get [gifts].. It’s important to be able to allow these kids to enjoy Christmas. One year, I brought a little girl in here and she didn’t have anything. She was more concerned with picking out gifts for her brothers and sisters, and after that, she picked one thing out [for herself.] I put some of my own money in, and got her something else,” Texarkana, Texas officer Cory Barry said. “A lot of the times, unfortunately, the kids that are here, they’ve possibly [had] an interaction with the police that hasn’t been the best. It may not be the best, but at some point, maybe this would do something to benefit those kids, where if they are in trouble, and they need something from the police, we’re here to actually help.”

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