Shop with a Cop

Local tradition returns after two years of COVID.

Nash officer Stephanie Walraven points in affirmation with her shopper to go to the toy section at Target. Children and first responders packed the aisles of the store during the shopping event.

Story by Liberty Maldonado, News/Feature Editor

Children gather excited for Santa and gifts on December 6 at the local Target for the annual Shop with a Cop. Organized by the Texarkana police and fire departments, it allows local children the opportunity to pair up with a cop to do their Christmas shopping, in order to receive a Christmas they might not have gotten otherwise. 

With the Christmas season approaching, money is a problem for many. Figuring out how to pay for gifts can be a focus of stress for not just people with multiple kids, but people with just one as well. Our local police department has helped relieve parents of some of the stress which surrounds the holidays by holding this event yearly. 

“[Shop with a Cop] started in some other areas of the country, and it was 1993 or ‘94, that one of our officers, George Huggins Jr. had heard of the program and wanted to start it here,” police chief Kevin Schutte said. “He helped to implement it back in the ‘90s and it has just grown from there.” 

As the children were paired up with their cop, you could see the excitement in their eyes and the joy on their faces as they walked around picking out toys and clothes that our local people of Texarkana help to be able to provide. 

“[Shop with a Cop] is supported by the community,” Shutte said. “There are business leaders throughout the community, individuals throughout the community, that every year around Thanksgiving start calling and saying that they want to donate to Shop with a Cop.” 

Even though Covid restricted the event being held in person the past few years, that didn’t prevent the offices from still making the kids able to receive presents for Christmas.

No matter how old I get or how long I do this, getting to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and being able to give back to the community, I look forward to getting to impact the lives of these young children every year.”

— Kevin Schutte

“In order to ensure the safety of the kids and the other participants, we did a drive by where we were given a list of what the children wanted and the cops shopped accordingly,” Schutte said. “Then, the families would pull up, and we would load the toys in their trunks.” 

Not only is it something for the kids and parents to look forward to, but also for the cops who get to help bring Christmas to these children every year. 

“This is how we as police officers start our Christmas every year,” Schutte said. “No matter how old I get or how long I do this, getting to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and being able to give back to the community, I look forward to getting to impact the lives of these young children every year.” 

Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of the holidays, and that’s just what our local police and fire departments are ensuring. By showing out and continuing to push for support from others, children of the community are given a Christmas to remember.

“There is no way we want to take Christmas away from the people that we service,” Schutte said. “Getting to provide for these families is something we love and getting to see them happy is what makes us look forward to it every year.”