Gresham kids get to shop with a cop
When the Gresham Police Department told its officers it needed volunteers to help support the annual "Shop with a Cop" event, so many responded that organizers had to expand the scope.
Shop with a Cop pairs officers with local children in need of support during the holidays. The pairs worked their way around Gresham's Fred Meyer store, 2497 S.E. Burnside Road, buying Christmas gifts they otherwise wouldn't have gotten.
"This is a way for these kids to see the officers as just another member of the community," said Gresham Police Chief Robin Sells. "It allows them to change what might have been a negative connotation about the police."
The event, held Saturday morning, Dec. 2, was organized by the Optimist Club of Gresham, while the Salvation Army of Gresham Corps chose the kids, ranging in age from 7 to 12, who would participate.
The original plan was to have 10 children, but because of the enthusiasm from the officers, 20 children were able to use a budget of $100 each to brighten their holidays. The additional money was donated by the Gresham Police Officers Association union.
Many of the children also made sure to buy gifts for their parents and siblings.
The most popular items were toys, ranging from dolls, cars, Legos, board games and much more. The children also bought new shoes, clothes and holiday decorations for their homes. One little girl picked out a stuffed bear that was bigger than she was.
Twenty-four Gresham officers joined the event, many on their own time. Some were coming off the graveyard shift, which had them on duty from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Whenever one of their kids spent more than their budget, they would help cover the difference rather than pull something out. Other shoppers at the store also donated to help cover any costs.
"All of these guys here today are so amazing," Sells said. "This is the kind of thing you can't teach."