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Police department joins with children to make Christmas special for the youths' families.

PMG FILE PHOTO - NDPD officers will be paired with youths as part of the department's annual Shop With a Cop program in December.

In mid-December, officers from the Newberg-Dundee Police Department will bring Christmas cheer to youths who might otherwise be unfamiliar with the feeling.

The department's annual Shop With a Cop program is set for Dec. 11 at the Newberg Fred Meyer Store in a tradition that began 11 years ago locally and in the 1970s on a national scale. The original program began in Las Vegas in 1978 "as a way not only to provide a memorable experience and holidays gifts for underprivileged children but as a way to improve a child's image of police officers as they often only see law enforcement in stressful and uncertain circumstances," a release from the NDPD said.

"Everyone benefits from this event, especially the children," NDPD Chief Jeff Kosmicki said in the release. "It is a heartwarming experience for everyone involved."

The event targets children ages 6 to 10 years old who are deemed at-risk and/or medically challenged. Participants are nominated by teachers and counselors at their respective schools, but not from families participating in the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue district's Toy and Joy program or receiving other resources.

From there, the process is simple: an officer is paired with a child who will receive a gift card, provided through charitable donations from the community to make purchases.

"The child, with the help of the officer, gets to shop and select a special gift for their siblings and parents or caregiver," Kosmicki said.

Once the gifts are in hand, they will be wrapped by volunteers as the children look on. As they sip hot chocolate and nibble on cookies, the officers will slip away to consort with Fred Meyer employees to select a surprise gift for the children themselves.

This year marks a return of an in-person program as last year's COVID-19 restrictions required a hybrid model to deliver presents to families.

"Instead of taking the children shopping, a group of officers shopped for each family and the gifts were delivered by police officer volunteers," the release said. "This year, we will return to our traditional in-person model of shopping with the child at Fred Meyer, but we will have the hybrid model as a backup plan in the vent of unforeseen circumstances."

Kosmicki praised the local store's partnership with the department over the years in bringing cheer to local kids.

"Newberg Fred Meyer has been a tremendous partner in this event every year," he said. "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. Local businesses and citizens alike donate money for the event."

He added that NDPD officers and dispatchers also volunteer their time throughout the year with fundraising events, but it isn't just the kids who are enriched as a result.

"The police department feels fortunate to be a part of this wonderful event," Kosmicki said.

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