Shop with a Cop Brings Holiday Spirit to Eight Pokagon Kids

Elders and Mno Bmadsen each donated $500 to this event, and Junior Youth Council donated $1000, providing eight children in the community $2000 to shop for Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.

Everyone met at the Community Center December 13, where the 11 participating Tribal Police Officers lined up their cars. Each youth was assigned an Officer to shop with, had lunch, and each pair got their photo taken in front of the line of vehicles.

The group, accompanied by three senior youth members, paraded in a line of police vehicles to the Niles Wal-Mart. With lists in hand, the youth pulled item after item from the shelves and into their waiting carts. Perfumes for sisters, sweaters and coats for parents, were all part of the children's final purchases.

"The positive energy that day was top notch," said Lt. Rich Killips of the Tribal Police, who experienced his first Shop with a Cop this year, despite a lengthy career in law enforcement. "Everyone who was involved in it wants to do it again. It wasn't a requirement, but we had more than enough cops to match up with kids."

While the children shopped, the senior youth members developed the photos taken at the Community Center, chose a few frames, and each participant went home with a tangible reminder of what happened that day.

"One little girl wouldn't buy anything for herself, she only wanted to shop for her family," recalls Lt. Killips. "Only after she had picked out something for everyone in her family were we able to talk her into buying something for herself."

The group had their own check out lane, reserved just for them, keeping the process smooth and simple. Following that the Officers drove the group back to the Community Center and helped them wrap their gifts for their families.

"The kids really had an amazing time," said Collin Church, senior youth council chair. He hopes to expand the program to more youth next year.