A holiday tradition in Riverbank, the annual Shop With a Cop event was staged at Kohl’s in the Crossroads Shopping Center a few days before Christmas, with rave reviews from all involved.
“The event went extremely well,” said Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely. “Smiling faces were seen everywhere.”
The event gathers kids in need, pairs them up with a deputy, and includes a shopping spree at Kohl’s for needed clothing items, followed by a pizza party, a visit with Santa and the distribution of some toys.
There were a total of 30 volunteers (deputies) and there were 21 kids that they bought for and seven families. With toy donations received from the Sin Cal toy drive and Strut Performing Arts toy drive, they were able to help 13 other families that did not get to do shop with a cop.
“The kids are picked up by the cops in their vehicles and driven to Kohl’s for their shopping adventure,” noted Kiely, adding that officers enjoy seeing the kids’ eyes light up when they see and hear the lights and sirens.
The kids shopping were from eight months old up to 13 years old.
“People are generous and really want to help. We are packed with volunteers,” said Riverbank Police Services’ CSO Melissa Hardy. “This was the ninth annual.”
Once the youngsters have completed their shopping spree for some clothing essentials, it is off to enjoy some dinner.
Mountain Mikes, Round Table and Pizza Plus donated the pizzas. Starbucks donated warm beverages and Coca Cola donated sodas and water. Strut Performing Arts donated their time to attend.
Officials said Strut Performing Arts has “a wonderful group of young, vibrant, talented dance students” that add a touch of enchantment to the event and bring the energy level even higher. RPS had the good fortune of becoming acquainted with Strut several years ago through one of the dance moms, who after becoming familiar with Shop With a Cop, ran the idea of performing for the event past Strut’s ownership. The wrap up pizza party has been blessed with a performance each year since.
Of course the stand out moment never changes; it is when Santa and Mrs. Claus make their grand entry.
RPS received many “thank you’s” from the parents, grandparents and guardians of the kids who attended.
“We in turn tell them ‘thank you’ for entrusting their children to us and letting them participate in the event.” Kiely said.
Officials added that the Shop With a Cop wouldn’t happen without the willingness of the families and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department personnel to come together. This included Sheriff Adam Christianson, who attended the shopping spree this year and greeted people outside of Kohl’s, as well as attended the pizza party to visit with kids and hang out with Santa.
Photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus were part of the festivities at the wrap up party as well, and all children attending received a gift.
“I think it is important to continue the program because it is the most positive thing that we get to do all year with families,” said Kiely. “It is good for us. It warms our hearts. It is something positive that we get to do and we will continue to do this as long as we are financially able to do so.”