EAST LANSING, Mich. — Approximately 100 area children, 100 area police officers and 100 civilian volunteers will participate in Ingham County’s 2014 Shop with a Cop program, taking place this Saturday Dec. 6.
This special event provides less affluent children with an opportunity to do their holiday shopping alongside the dedicated officers that serve Ingham County. Generous community, business and law enforcement donations make it possible for each child to spend $100 during the event. The children selected to participate in Shop with a Cop are referred by law enforcement agencies, schools, churches and regional community programs/causes.
This year, the children and officers will be meeting at the Plymouth Congregational Church, 2001 E. Grand River Ave., at 8:30 a.m. Following a breakfast of bagels and juice, the group will travel by police motorcade up Wood Street (sirens and lights running) to the Walmart adjacent to Eastwood Towne Center, 3225 Towne Center Blvd. Each child will be paired with an officer, who will help them with their holiday shopping. The event will also include pictures with Santa and lunch at Subway while gifts are being wrapped.
This quote from a Meridian Township police officer, who participated in the program in 2011, demonstrates how special this event is for both the children and officers:
“We were greeted by a group of well wishers at the front door. The people cheered as the kids and officers made their way inside. The little girl I was with had a list and, as I looked at her list, I realized she did not have anything for herself on it. She told me it was important she pick things for her family and friends first. In the past, I have heard stories of kids trying to buy cat food because their families can’t afford to pay for it. I have heard officers asking kids if they decorated their tree, only to find out they don’t have one. These same officers have dug into their own pockets to purchase many things. We share smiles and laughs and even a few tears with these kids and love every minute of it. I can only speak for myself, but I personally treasured this experience and I am eternally grateful to the people who help make it happen.”
Shop with a Cop of Ingham County is a division of the Lansing Police Athletic League. The program coordinators include Det. Candace Ivey and Heidi Williams (co-chairs from the East Lansing Police Department), Phil Bailey (retired Lansing Police Department), Det. Michelle Bryant (Lansing Police Department) and Tootsie Panayotou (civilian volunteer). All law enforcement agencies in Ingham County will be represented at the 2014 event.