By Jeff Harrison
Christmas came early this year for some local children.
It was part of the Shop with a Cop event sponsored by the Midwest City Police Department and Walmart.
Children were paired with a police officer or department staff and treated to a $100 Walmart shopping spree.
“They all head straight for the toys and the Legos,” said Sgt. Eric Doolittle. “They have an idea of what they want and then they get back there and see everything.”
The group included 57 children and about 30 police department employees. Many of the volunteers brought family members to help shop. The event provides the opportunity for children to see police officers in a positive light, and for officers to see the impact it has on children.
Sgt. Trae Fisher said it’s something fellow officers look forward to every year.
“It’s a great experience and the kids really love it,” Fisher said. “I’m really glad they started this.”
Fisher, like many officer, brought his family with on Sunday.
“It’s a great experience, especially for the old kids and makes them feel more fortunate for what they have,” he said.
The program is largely funded by Walmart’s local charity program. The Midwest City Police Department also collects donations for the program throughout the year.
Since its inception, the program has assisted about 1,050 children in Midwest City. Local schools, neighborhood associations and other social service agencies help select children to participate in the event. The children also receive breakfast food and drink provided by Walmart.
The Midwest City Shop with a Cop program started in 1997. Chief Brandon Clabes, who was an assistant chief at the time, heard about other similar Christmas programs for children and wanted to start one in Midwest City. Walmart quickly stepped in to help with the first event. And the partnership has continued ever since.