Molalla Police bless local kids at 'Shop with a Cop'
Several of Molalla's police officers and their families spent their Saturday last week shopping with local kids for Christmas at the annual Shop with a Cop.
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office co-hosted the event with Walmart on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Local law-enforcement officers located children whose low-income families have had some enforcement contact with police, and during Shop with a Cop, officers presented those children with $100 gift cards and then shopped with them at the Clackamas Walmart, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Jolly Old Saint Nick was also there to take pictures with the kids, whose wishes it seemed, were already being granted.
After shopping, Walmart employees wrapped every gift for the children.
This year, officers from multiple agencies served more than 100 kids from nearly every school district in the county, according to Molalla Officer Rebecca Corwin.
The event helps bridge relationships between children and the police, CCSO said in a press release.
"These children are specifically chosen because their families may have experienced prior law-enforcement activity with police—creating a significant impact on the child," the release said. "Witnessing the arrest of a loved one can cause many youngsters to harbor strong negative feelings towards law-enforcement. 'Shop with a Cop' presents an opportunity to identify with those children and pair them together with a law-enforcement officer in a positive situation—shopping for Christmas presents."
Molalla's Corwin has participated in Shop with a Cop at least seven times and has been with the Clackamas County Benevolent Foundation, which primarily funds the event, for eight years.
According to Corwin, the event is about relationships, and it works.
"It's a wonderful event. I always come away with the warm-fuzzy feeling—seeing the kids' reactions," Corwin said. "This year, I had a grandma pull me aside and tell me how much it meant to their family. I've had kids I've shopped with, and then run into or had contact with months later, and it changes the interactions. Instead of thinking the police are bad, or I'm scared of the police, it's wait a minute, I know you, and I had fun with you. It builds relationships."
After hearing positive things from other officers about Shop with a Cop, Molalla Officer Jared Brenner participated in the event for the first time this year, alongside other Molalla officers. He said the atmosphere was positive and festive and agreed the experience offered children and police officers an opportunity to connect in a positive way.
He said the event lets officers "be able to go with kids from your community and to shop with them and have that positive influence, and be able to just have fun with them and have them see law enforcement not necessarily in a strict, working-type environment per se if that's their experience that they've had with law enforcement—to be able just to go and have fun and joke around or be able to just interact with law enforcement outside of our jobs really."
The event was funded by Clackamas County Benevolent Foundation—provided by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, and was made possible also by Walmart, Molalla Police, Canby Police, West Linn Police, Lake Oswego Police and the public, according to the release.
The Benevolent Foundation holds several fundraisers throughout the year to fund Shop with a Cop and other charitable causes. Its biggest fundraising event is the Officer Mulligan Charity Golf Tournament that happens in July at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City.
To learn more about Shop with a Cop, the golf tournament, or to donate to the event, visit https://ccpobf.org/christmas-shop-with-a-cop/.