WASHINGTON COUNTY – Children and law enforcement officers gathered throughout Washington County early Saturday morning for a day of shopping and a surprise guest. At the annual “Shop with a Cop,” KONY Coins for Kids partnered with Washington law enforcement agencies to provide Christmas for children who may not have otherwise had one.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
“This, to me, is one of the highlights of the year,” Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said. “I think it’s very important that they see there’s a different side than the enforcement side and that officers are human. This is one of the best events – to work with the kids.”
Children and officers gathered at the Washington County Fairgrounds to enjoy breakfast and get to know one another. Police chiefs and volunteers served pancakes, sausage and eggs to the officers and to the children, who were eager start shopping.
At 7:45 a.m., residents of Washington County may have heard and seen a line of patrol cars with their lights on and sirens blaring as the Shop with a Cop participants made their way to the Bloomington, Washington and Hurricane Wal-Mart stores to begin shopping.
For many of the officers, a highlight of the morning was seeing the looks of excitement on the children’s’ faces as they got to push buttons to turn on the lights and sirens in the emergency vehicles. Treyvon, a child from Hurricane who was chosen to participate in this year’s event, said he was excited to get to talk on the PA system.
“It’s always fun to light up the car. It’s like a Christmas tree,” St. George Police officer Dave McDaniel said. “I know the kids love that.”
As children lined up to start shopping, a very special guest arrived in a firetruck. Santa Claus jumped out of the truck and greeted smiling children, who were excited he made the long trip from the North Pole to see them. While Santa was there, he visited and took pictures with every child involved in “Shop with a Cop” at each of the three Wal-Mart stores.
“It’s magnificent. The police officers have been absolutely wonderful in helping out,” Santa Claus said. “All the care and love that goes into what they are doing is tremendous.”
While walking into Wal-Mart, the officers and children were greeted by Wal-Mart associates lining the aisles, smiling and clapping.
“That is a tradition that has evolved over the last several years,” Hurricane Wal-Mart Manager Rick Heyrend said. “It’s kind of special for them.”
Wal-Mart prepares the night before “Shop with a Cop” by adding more toys to the store shelves, setting up gift-wrapping tables and having additional employees come in, though some are not scheduled to work.
“Not all employees here are working. They are just here to take it in,” Heyrend said.
After the children finished shopping and getting their pictures taken with Santa Claus, a group of volunteers wrapped and labeled gifts so the children could open them on Christmas morning.
KONY Coins for Kids selected the children to participate and also provided Washington County law enforcement agencies with the names of the youth they would be helping. Of the 109 children selected to be a part of “Shop with a Cop,” some were too young to go shopping. Officers and children bought gifts to take to the children who were too young to participate. Funds totaling $15,000 were raised for this event so every child could spend up to $150 on gifts for themselves and others.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to do this with our community members,” Jim Keith, Washington City Police chief, said. “It’s a lot of fun for all the officers. I know the kids enjoy it and, hopefully, we are giving back to the community a little bit.”
The following law enforcement agencies and government entities voluntarily participated in “Shop with a Cop”:
- Washington County Sheriff’s Office
- Hurricane City Police Department
- St. George Police Department
- Washington City Police Department
- Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department
- Springdale Police Department
- Utah State Wildlife Division
- Utah Highway Patrol
- Immigrations and Customs
- Zion National Park
- Adult Probation and Parole
- Hurricane Valley Fire Department
- LaVerkin Police Department
- Dixie State University Campus Police
- Washington County Drug Task Force
- Utah Driver’s License Division
- Bureau of Land Management
- Arizona Highway Patrol
- Mohave County Sheriff’s Office
- Department of Corrections
“Shop with a Cop” and KONY Coins for Kids could also not take place without local community sponsors:
- Gilbert Development
- Walmart Distribution Center
- Hurricane Wal-Mart
- Washington Wal-Mart
- Bloomington Wal-Mart
- Red Mountain Spa
- Cache Valley Bank
- Don and Joann Ipson
- Anonymous individual donors
- Hurricane Valley Festival of Trees
- Sysco Foods
- Mountain America Credit Union
- Cedar Post Pawn
- Fitness Ridge
- Lightfoots Convenience Store
- Calvary Chapel Hurricane Valley
- State Bank of Southern Utah
- Western Mining and Minerals
- Desert Riders Club
- Boulevard Home Furnishings
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- Hear sirens blaring across the county? Let the shopping begin
- News Short: What are those sirens?
- Santa & Mrs. Claus pay surprise visit to ‘Shop with a Cop’ kids; STGnews Videocast, photo gallery
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