Kids get to Shop With A Cop for extra gifts this Christmas
By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of dozen smiling people were wandering through the aisles of the Charles City Kmart store Wednesday evening for Shop With A Cop — and the kids were having fun, too.
This was the third annual occurrence of the Floyd County event that pairs students identified by the school system with members of law enforcement for a shopping spree where the kids can essentially buy anything they want within the spending limit.
“It’s usually for toys,” said Deputy Travis Bartz, who has organized the event each year.
“We also encourage them to maybe buy something for their mom or their dad, brother or sister if they want, and then maybe get something that is not a toy, like a pair of boots or mittens, that type of thing.
“We encourage that, but first and foremost it’s for them, you know, to help them out this year, whether the family suffered a hardship such as a fire, or something like that. They can have a little something extra,” he said.
Bartz said the program, which is held by various law enforcement agencies across the country, also helps with public perception to bridge the gap between what some kids think about deputies and officers.
“It shows you can have fun with us,” he said.
“And you see that smile on the officers, too. They’re having fun,” Bartz said, adding that a lot of the officers say after participating for the first time that it was a lot more fun than they thought it would be.
“To see the kids have fun and, “Oh, my gosh, I get this toy,” and basically we tell them, hey, get whatever you want — everybody has fun doing it,” he said.
Bartz said they would spend about $1,200 on the event this year. They were planning on telling the kids they could spend up to $30 each, but because Kmart is going out of business and everything in the store is on sale, they told the kids they could spend up to $40 original sticker price.
The Floyd County deputy said they weren’t sure what they would do to continue the program next year when Kmart is closed, but were considering Theisens or other options.
Twenty-four total department members from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, the Charles City Police Department and the Nora Springs Police Department took part Wednesday evening, including deputies and officers, reserves and a jailer.
There were 30 kids signed up at last count, Bartz said. School counselors, principals and teachers identify the students who they think would benefit from the shopping spree.
Money for the event comes from the Deputies Association and donations from the public.
“I just put it on Facebook we’re doing Shop With A Cop if anybody wants to donate, and we got quite a bit of money this year to basically pay for everything,” Bartz said.