Annual Shop With a Cop proves a great success
The Newberg-Dundee Police Department held its sixth annual Shop with a Cop program Dec. 9 at the Newberg Fred Meyer shopping center.
Nearly 30 local underprivileged children, ages 6 to 10, were referred by their school's teachers and counselors to experience buying Christmas gifts for their siblings, parents or caregivers while shopping with officers.
Twenty police officers participated and volunteered their time. Two officers were on paid duty and eight volunteers helped organize, fund-raise and receive donations for the program. The program raised about $1,794 this year, a little more than last year NDPD officials said.
Shop with a Cop was established in Las Vegas in 1978 and is now a national program, according to its website. It was started to provide a memorable experience and holiday gifts for underprivileged children, but also as a way to improve a child's image of police officers. Often it is these children that see police officers in both stressful and uncertain circumstances.
Each child was paired with an officer and given a Fred Meyer gift card to enable the children to purchase gifts for their family.
Volunteers carefully wrapped the gifts while the children enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies. As a surprise for the child, Fred Meyer personalized gifts for each child and presented it at the end of their shopping trip.
"I was moved when a very quiet young man bought his sister a giant stuffed penguin," Sgt. Del Linck said in an email.
One young girl asked "Sargent Cookie" what Shop with a Cop was all about. After he explained it to her she came up and gave him a big hug telling him thank you. One young boy attended at the last minute because his mother received a phone call from the school volunteer because they could not notify her by mail. The mother had never heard of the event and left quickly for Fred Meyer so her son could participate.
"She got so choked up that she couldn't say anything for a moment. It was very moving," Linck said.
Maria Sampera orchestrated the event.
"She is very passionate about the program and contributes some of her own money to the program each year," said NDPD Capt. Jeff Kosmicki. "We all benefit, especially the children! It is a heart-warming experience for everyone involved."
He praised Fred Meyer and its part in the program.
"Newberg Fred Meyer has been a tremendous partner in this event every year," Kosmicki said in an email. "The store donates thousands of dollars-worth of merchandise and their employees volunteer their time and effort, not only during the event but also during fundraising efforts throughout the year. The police department feels fortunate to be a part of this."