by Ariel McRae
Santa Claus is coming to town in less than a week, but for some students from Stigall Primary and East Elementary, Christmas came a little early last Monday, December 12. Various needs-based students selected by teachers gathered in the cafeteria at East Elementary where a large group of law enforcement officers from Humboldt and other surrounding cities assembled for the annual Shop with a Cop event.
The Shop with a Cop event is held every year for children within the Humboldt City Schools system
that might need a little extra help and cheer around the holidays. Donors make Christmas time special for these kids with their contributions to the program. The more donations received, the more children can be gifted.
“We usually start taking donations around October 1 through December 1 [for the event],” Humboldt Police Department’s Lt. Jonathan Wilson described of the process for donating to Shop with a Cop.
With the donations gathered throughout the 2022 year, the police met with those children at East Elementary to have a pizza dinner party with them. Every student in attendance filled their bellies with pizza and cookies served by the teachers and policemen and shared lots of laughter with their families.
After everyone had their fill, the kids climbed into the back of police cars and were escorted with lights on and sirens blaring to Walmart for them to gather necessary supplies and pick out a few toys ‘Santa’ dropped off at the store for them. The parents followed behind the event procession to help the shopping experience go a little more smoothly.
The crew of kids scattered throughout the store in search of the perfect gifts just for them. Coats, shoes, socks and even deodorant were all tossed into buggies at lightening speed. Each child received $200 to spend as they wished with $80 delegated to necessities such as clothes and hygiene products and the other $120 was allotted to the children for anything they wanted under the tree, which gave them free reign to search up and down the toy aisles like ‘Eloise in the Plaza’ fulfilling their wish lists.
Younger children picked toys such as monster trucks, dollhouses, dinosaurs and stuffed animals to snuggle. Slightly older children chose art supplies, jewelry, make up and journaling kits. The older kids in the group mostly huddled together in the electronic section choosing to take home tablets, laptops or phones with their money. Every single child made it to the front of the store with their police officer or state trooper shopping buddy with items tailored to their own unique personalities. No kids’ buggy looked the same. Some kids were even generous with the officer helping them shop, gifting them something upon checking out.
“This year a kid bought a small flashlight for the officer they were matched with,” explained Lt. Wilson about the kindness he witnessed.
At the end of the event, every child hugged their shopping partner and parted ways to go home with their parents. Walmart employees who helped mark off tags and bag items shared a collective sigh after the big hour and a half rush. Lt. Wilson gathered all the receipts to add to his pile so that any money that was not used during this event could be used in the following year.
Come Christmas morning, these children will have smiles on their faces and gifts to play with thanks to donors around Humboldt and to the Humboldt Police Officers Association for putting together such a special program filled with that special holiday magic.
“Bringing a smile to the kids’ faces,” Lt. Wilson shared of his favorite part of the annual event he
oversees. “Seeing the excitement they get when they picked out something they may otherwise not been able to get and seeing some of the kindness some of the kids show with their money [is the best].”
If you would like to donate to the Shop with a Cop fundraiser for 2023, please keep a look out for any announcement for when they will begin collecting at the station. With shopping done and another successful event completed it is time to have a very Merry Christmas.