By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Christmas came early this year for some local children.
The Midwest City Police Department last Sunday held their annual Shop with a Cop event at Walmart in Midwest City.
Children were paired with a police officer or department staff and treated to a $100 Walmart shopping spree.
The group included 51 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.
“I love the camaraderie with the officers and the children and their families,” said Chief Sid Porter. “Christmas is a time of giving and thinking of others. It’s important to show kindness and compassion to those who are less fortunate. And just seeing the smiling faces is so much fun.”
Family is an important element of the program, Porter said. Many of the children come with siblings and a parent or guardian to the event. And officers and employees are encouraged to bring their families as well.
“We don’t want the brothers or sisters to feel left out. We want to be a family event,” Porter said.
Lt. Matt Clawson was among the officers that brought family members to the event. He said he enjoyed sharing the experience with his wife and two young daughters.
“Christmas is about helping others in the community. I think this really takes our focus off ourselves and puts it back on helping others,” he said. “We focus Christmas on Jesus Christ and his birth and what he did for all of us by dying on a cross. And this is something small that we can do to give back to other people.”
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 nearly 1,200 children in Midwest City. Local schools, neighborhood associations and other social service agencies help select children to participate in the event. The children also received snacks and drinks provided by Walmart.
The Midwest City Shop with a Cop program started in 1997. Former 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.
“We were the original Shop with a Cop program and Walmart has done an excellent job helping us,” Porter said.