|Department of Public Safety Detective Brady Little helps Marshal, 8, pick out a shirt for his brother Saturday morning during the annual Shop with a Cop event at the Kmart in Prescott Valley.|
Photo courtesy Matt Hinshaw
|Prescott Valley Police Officer Matt Cahill helps Andrew, 10, pick out a Nerf gun for his brother Saturday morning during the annual Shop with a Cop event at the Kmart in Prescott Valley.|
Photo courtesy Matt Hinshaw
When Christian, 11, told Chino Valley Police Officer Todd Hyslip that he wanted to find something special for his mother Saturday morning, they headed to the jewelry department, where Christian chose a bracelet with a sparkling heart.
Christian was one of 92 children in need paired with officers from 11 law enforcement agencies through the Shop with a Cop program to buy Christmas gifts for their families.
"I did this when I was a kid in Chicago," Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Lewis said as his new pal Tyler chose a poster. "It means a lot to me that I get to do this now and give it forward."
The Prescott Police Department program, funded solely by donations from local businesses and community members, brightens the holidays for needy children nominated by their schools and social service agencies.
"The most kids ever took part in the program this year," said Prescott Police Sgt. Ben Scott. "This is a great opportunity for everyone - the kids, the officers, the volunteers, and community members who make it all possible."
The children called out "Merry Christmas!" over patrol cars' loudspeakers as officers drove them into the Prescott Valley Kmart parking lot, and sang "Jingle Bells" as they waited for Santa, who arrived on a Central Yavapai Fire District engine.
"It's a great day, great weather, we have Santa, and we have some wonderful kids," Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel said. "We've got some officers here who've been part of this since we started it 15 years ago, and I'm proud of how far it's come."
As children and officers walked into the store, they were greeted by volunteers, the Bradshaw Mountain High School and Prescott High School cheer lines, and mascots Deputy Do-Right, Smokey Bear, Eddie the Eagle, and Burnie the Sundog. McGruff the Crime Dog gave them high-fives.
"I like seeing the kids' faces as they're buying things for their family and not for themselves," said Shay Bosick, a BMHS cheerleader.
" It makes them so happy - their faces just light up," said Sarah Gibson, also a BMHS cheerleader.
While some children had breakfast with the officers first, others started shopping.
"I've been part of this for the past four years, and every year I get matched up with the best kids," said Adam Moore with the U.S. Marshal Service as he helped Daniel, 11, pick out a shirt and belt. "It makes the kids happy and puts a smile on my face to see these kids get a Christmas they otherwise might not have."
After Basia, 11, picked out a Hello Kitty toy she knew her sister would just love, she asked Yavapai-Prescott Tribal Police Officer Scott Desjadon to help her find arts and crafts she could do together with her mother.
Kaitlyn, 11, said the best part about Shop with a Cop was talking about what she wanted to get her family with Prescott Valley Police Cpl. Tom Grant while they were shopping.
"She's a great shopper - look at all the gifts she's chosen for her family," Arizona Game and Fish Officer Scott Poppenberger said of Gianna, 9, who had a full cart.
"Angry Birds - my brother likes that," said Marshal, 8, as he shopped with Arizona Department of Public Safety Detective Brady Little.
Aaron, 10, called out "I found it" and showed Prescott Police Officer Pete Mayer a toy train for his younger brother.
After the children finished shopping, they brought their presents to wrapping stations where volunteers made the items festive.
As Dawn Perlak, a volunteer, wrapped a gift for Jocelyn, she asked her if she had a Baby Alive, too. When Jocelyn said she did, Perlak said, "I had one of those when I was little, too."
"We like being involved in community events like this," said Guy Sturner, Kmart store manager. "The police do so much to help us throughout the year, and it's nice to be a part of this."