Riverbank Police Services along with Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) officers made quite the stir as they lined up in front of Kohl’s for the seventh annual ‘Shop with a Cop’ event this past Thursday.
Shoppers in the Crossroads area noticed the law enforcement presence on Dec. 17 and had a look of query on their faces as one onlooker asked, “what is happening here?”
The Shop with a Cop program enlists the assistance of Deputies, Detectives, and SWAT officers along with their family members that take underprivileged children shopping for clothes, coats, shoes, and more.
“We continue (the event) because it warms our hearts to do it and we can’t stand the thought of shutting down such an event,” expressed Chief Erin Kiely. “We will continue the program for as long as we are able to successfully produce it.”
The program is funded through donations from local businesses, private parties, and associations within the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. The Kohl’s Cares Program has maximized their purchasing power.
There were 41 kids from 18 families that were selected for the shopping experience this year. Several deputies volunteer for the special assignment and are delighted to help the kids shop for some basic necessities.
After the shopping has ended all the participants venture over to the Community Center in Riverbank to partake in a pizza party.
Mountain Mike’s, Round Table, and Pizza Plus donated the pizza which offered a variety of goodness to the guests.
To start off the evening festivities at the pizza party, for the first time at the event was Strut Performance Arts, with members presenting a dance performance which included Alvin and the Chipmunks.
“Strut Performance Arts volunteered for their dancers to do a performance this year,” stated Kiely. “Strut also self-initiated their own fundraising for Shop with a Cop and collected enough donations to sponsor another half dozen children.”
“The dancers were amazing,” exclaimed Melissa Hardy, event coordinator. “Alvin and the Chipmunks were a hit. They also sang some Christmas songs and got a few of the kids to join in. They absolutely were a great addition to the event and we hope to get them back next year.”
Youngsters were also treated to face painting and a station where they could build a miniature wooden scooter.
Participating kids also get a ‘meet and greet’ with the big guy in the red suit, Santa Claus himself along with Mrs. Claus made an appearance and were able to give kids a present and take pictures with them.
The evening wrapped with full bellies, smiles, and Christmas cheer.
“I hope a good time was had by all,” expressed Hardy. “This is a great cause and we all here at the Riverbank Police Services and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department look forward to giving back to the community we protect.”
“I think it was a great success due to everyone’s support and participation,” added Kiely.