By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – Yukon’s Target was a buzz with early morning shoppers last Saturday as 22 children paired up with officers who help purchase gifts for their families.
Otis Davenport, president of the Citizens Police Academy, said it’s a time of year that officers and volunteers of Shop with a Cop anticipate.
“It’s the most exciting day of the year. It’s a fun day and a busy day,” Davenport said. “To see children’s faces…it’s a really great experience.”
Twenty-two families applied for the charity, eight fewer than last year. Thanks to an increase in donations, each child received $300 to purchase gifts for members of their family, including parents. At the end of the completed shopping list, each shopper gets to pick out a gift for themselves. Officers assist the children in finding the items and then help wrap the gifts for Christmas morning.
Items on the list included everything from coffee pots and bathrobes for mom and dad to items of everyday necessities.
Captain John Brown said it’s all smiles on Shop with a Cop day.
“This is one of the better days of the year,” Brown said. He waited in line to wrap gifts with a little girl and among the treasures was a bottle of laundry detergent. “Even though this is the fun stuff, it’s necessities too. She wanted to make sure her mom had enough laundry soap,” he said.
Schools and churches turn in referrals for families. Yukon public schools and convenience stores set up coin boxes to collect funds for the shopping spree, as well as organizations and churches who donated.
The Citizens Police Academy, a volunteer organization that assists the department during the year, organizes the event. Children meet at the station for breakfast before heading out to shop. When they return, the conference room is ready for wrapping gifts. Volunteers contact the parents as the gifts are finished for pickup.
Shop with a Cop began in 2008 and has benefited 230 children.