“Shop with a Cop” provides joy
Doug Ramsay photo
Sultan Elementary fifth grader Barbara Igo searches the toy section of the Fred Meyer store in Snohomish along with Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department deputy Kore Oyetuga during the fifth annual “Shop with A Cop” event on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
SNOHOMISH — As the children gathered around Santa’s chair, each awaiting his or her turn to share their wishes
with the big guy in red, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputies stood nearby, ready to make a few wishes come true a little sooner than Santa’s delivery date.
The fifth annual Shop With A Cop event last week paired sheriff’s deputies each with a child to shop with using a gift card at Fred Meyer, and take them around the store for a special shopping run.
But the first stop was with Santa Claus.
Each child, selected by officials at the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club and the Sultan School District, had
their picture taken with Santa as well as a quick sit-down with him to share their
Christmas wishes. After visiting with Santa, each child chose a deputy and went
shopping. Donations paid for the whole event.
This year, there were 34 children selected, with 30
showing up. There were about 31 deputies there to shop.
According to Snohomish Police Chief Keith Rogers, the event is special to the kids, but likely just as special
to the deputies.
“For us, it’s a very special night,” said Rogers, as he donned a blue Santa hat and waved at the kids and colleagues. “Because it’s not just for the kids, it’s become part of our tradition and
every one of us always looks forward to it each year. The kids love it, and so do we.”
Several of the kids were elementary and middle school-aged. Their excitement
could hardly be contained as some bounced on their feet, waiting their turn. Some kids couldn’t wait to talk with Santa and then go shopping, calling out or bursting into giggles.
As the other Fred Meyer shoppers bustled about the store and gawked at the number of deputies and kids doing some shopping, waves and pleasantries were exchanged.
“Why are there so many cops here? I bet there won’t be any shoplifting here tonight!” quipped one man.
As the kids and each “cop” navigated the store with the shopping carts, everyone
wore a smile. A few cops wore Santa hats.
“It’s a great partnership of the Sheriff’s Office, Fred Meyer, and some private (contributors) to give the kids a good Christmas,” said Deputy Rick Griner, who helps coordinate the event. “A lot
of the kids don’t even buy for themselves. They get gifts for other family members, and that always impresses us and makes us wish we could do more.”
One 12-year-old boy said he chose gifts for his little brother, and his favorite aunt. Another girl chose gifts for her parents, saying they
didn’t have much. Another little girl chose one present for herself, and a bigger present for her sister. The children seemed to understand what many if not the majority of other kids their age wouldn’t — that the holidays this time of year are about celebration and giving.
The good hearts of the
young didn’t go unnoticed by the deputies they shopped with. Several deputies willingly pulled out their own wallets to cover any extra costs in case “their kid” went over the gift card limit for gifts, especially for others.
“I love this opportunity to spend some time with some wonderful kids,” said Sgt. Marty Zelaya, who is also a Snohomish resident and had brought his grandson along to help. “I love to see them purchase gifts – rather than use (the gift card) on themselves, they get stuff for others. The kids are just amazing.”
Contributors for the Snohomish Shop With A Cop event included: The Snohomish County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Fred Meyer corporate, as well as individual and private donations.
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