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Making it Merry

Shop with a Cop is more than presents

by Danny Wade

Even though Christmas is just a week away, Santa Claus made an early visit to Humboldt last week. He was in town to support Humboldt’s Shop with a Cop event.

Even though Saint Nick did not fly in on his sleigh pulled by reindeer, he did fly into Humboldt. He arrived by helicopter along with a special elf, East Elementary School Principal Brittanie Doaks.

Shop with a Cop was held Monday, December 13 and started at East Elementary. Everyone gathered in the school cafeteria and enjoyed pizza before heading to Walmart.

“This year we were fortunate to have helped approximately 40 children,” said Principal Doaks. “This is the largest group of children we have ever assisted. Each child is paired with a police officer or fire fighter. The children get to ride in police cars to Walmart. The officer/fire fighter and child then get to shop together.”

Due to the large number of children this year, Doaks said there were more law enforcement agencies assisting the Humboldt Police Department this year including Humboldt Fire Department, Gibson County Sheriff’s Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Jackson PD, Milan PD, Trenton PD, Crockett County Sheriff’s Department, Alamo PD, Bells PD and Dyer PD. District Attorney Frederick Agee stopped in Walmart to participate as well.

“Without all of these people, we would have not been able to make this event happen,” Doaks noted.

HPD’s Sgt. Jonathan Wilson headed up the event again this year. He was grateful for the other law enforcement officers for volunteering their time to assist. And with almost 40 children participating, there was a need for more police volunteers.

After everyone had their fill of pizza, all the police cars, fire trucks and family vehicles lined up to form a big convoy. The group left the schools with lights flashing and sirens blaring, and made their way to Walmart. Each kid teamed up with a policeman, deputy or fireman and made their way through the aisle searching for Christmas presents.

Each officer was given a gift card pre-loaded with the same amount to use for their child. Humboldt PD, along with some assistance from the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, raised money and accepted donations from the community to purchase the gift cards. Several police officers donated to the cause as well.

For some of the children, they headed straight toward the toy department while others went to the kids’ clothing area. The kids picked out what they wanted. The only stipulation for Shop with a Cop was a portion of the purchase must be for need and another portion was for want. Clothing and shoes were among the top choices for need, while toys were the top choice for their wants.

Some of the children got things for their siblings and family members. This showed the true meaning of Christmas giving.

Seeing the smiling faces was all the thanks these officers needed. But these officers participating got a lot more out of the event for themselves. This was evident by their smiles too.

One of the most important things that comes out of Shop with a Cop is building a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community. It helps make Christmas brighter for families, it offers the officers a way to give back to the community and it provides a means to bridge the relationship between the public and law enforcement in a positive manner. It’s a win-win situation.

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