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Cops Connect With Kids Through Shopping Spree
Plenty of smiles could be seen as the shoppers and their personal escorts got ready to enter Kohl’s in the Crossroads for Shop with a Cop. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The Sheriff’s Department vehicles, K9 units, and S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) truck lined the sidewalk in front of Kohl’s in the Crossroads Shopping Center, causing some excitement once again as the annual Shop with a Cop program returned. The public stared in curiosity as the vehicles lined the entrance with lights flashing that had many people asking ‘what was going on.’ The program has assisted families in need during the holiday season for over 10 years.

Last year, due to COVID the program was a bit different as law enforcement did the shopping with volunteers for the kids and then delivered the goods along with food and beverages directly to their homes within the Riverbank community. However, the program this year returned to its original concept of Shop with a Cop.

There were 40 volunteers from Riverbank Police Services (RPS) and multiple divisions of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department that volunteered to take a number of kids on a shopping spree through Kohl’s this past week for essentials like clothing, coats, and shoes. The families also received a food gift card.

“We always get a large group of volunteers as our employees love seeing the joy on the kids’ faces,” said RPS Chief Ed Ridenour. “A large portion of the funds came directly through our Cool Hand Luke’s Fundraiser Dinner we had in October. We also receive monetary donations through several of Sheriff’s Office various nonprofit organizations (SWAT Team, K9, Employee Foundation, etc.), local nonprofits, and several members of the public directly donated as well.”

There were more funds raised this year according to the Chief due to the success of the fundraiser at Cool Hand Luke’s and generous donations from local business, nonprofits and the public which allowed them to increase the amount spent on each child by $100 over last year.

“This was very much needed as we see inflation across all goods,” added Ridenour.

The kids were walking through the aisles with their law enforcement shopping partner and other volunteers to find just the right items. Some kids were eager to get new shoes and some had dresses and coats in mind.

Ridenour noted that the parents and kids reactions were filled with “smiles and joyful tears.”

He said, “The parents are overwhelmed that their kids get essential clothing, toys, and food for the family that they would otherwise do without or struggle to obtain. The kids are so excited for the clothing. Many of them have never received new clothing or clothing that fits.”

After the shopping spree the families gathered at the Riverbank Community Center for a pizza party with special guests like Santa and Mrs. Claus and the elusive Grinch that was spreading Christmas cheer as his heart grew three sizes that day. The vibe was warm and the smiles and laughter could be seen throughout the event. Families were taking pictures with Santa and kids were getting their faces painted very creatively by Vanessa Argumedo.

This year’s event was organized by Community Resource Deputy Xiong and Community Service Officer Nes Harigot.

“These two led the way and did an amazing job which was directly recognized by how successful the event was,” expressed Ridenour. “For me my favorite part is seeing the joy of the parents and excitement of the children. You can tell they are so thankful for the generous support of their community.”

They had approximately 30 large pizzas donated from Pizza Plus, Mountain Mikes, and Round Table. There were drinks, hot chocolate and desserts for guests that were all donated through local businesses.

The Chief will continue to support and promote the program as he shared that “it is important to take care of those going through difficult times and ensure all families have a wonderful holiday.”

The kids were also gifted some toys and games at the pizza party making a very joyous occasion for all involved.

“The event was a huge success,” said Ridenour. “I am very proud of the team that worked tirelessly organizing it, all the donations, and public support. We truly changed the lives of many less fortunate children and families in a positive way. I want to say thank you to all the nonprofits, local businesses, and the public for their generous donations. Without their support this event would not happen.”

There was a lot of hustle and bustle at Kohl’s last week as kids shopped with cops for essential clothing and shoes. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
The moment was captured as families and law enforcement took pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus during the pizza party following their shopping trip. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS