I don’t love winter. The cold temperatures, getting colds in general and snow just don’t top my “love” list. But I do love the feelings of generosity and caring for others that tend to be abundant around the holidays.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to document the Badge of Hope Ministries Shop With a Cop and it was a really, really special event.
Saturday was the first of two shopping weekends to be split between 26 area third- and fourth-grade students.
Children each received a $100 gift card to Walmart and had an officer help them choose their favorite toys, electronics or gadgets they had their heart set on.
Officer Rick Neace with the Union Police Department and Badge of Hope Ministries organized the event for the second year. This year, though, his son, Sgt. Chris Neace with the Hermann Police Department, became involved, helping raise enough funds to sponsor six participants.
That’s how the program nearly tripled from the 10 youth selected last year.
Children are chosen by school counselors and a group of community members.
I arrived a little early to see employees dressed as elves serving the children hot cocoa and sweet treats. Then, Santa arrived with a special gift for each child.
While I was waiting for the shopping spree to begin, I asked a few of the children what they had their eyes on.
One youngster said he needed a Nerf gun and a present for his mom. Cue my heart melting.
Another little one told me she loved all toys, “including Batman.”
And when they set off down the aisles, toward clothing and toy aisles, the look on their faces was truly priceless. An officer helped one little girl try on bicycle helmets, another reached to the highest shelf to reach the coolest Fur Real Friend.
More requested video game controllers from behind the locked cases and even helped choose that special Nerf gun, much to the delight of those being helped.
I loved Shop With a Cop, every part of it. Thanks to Badge of Hope Ministries, the Union and Herman police departments, the Washington Police Department (whose chief participated as well), Walmart and any other donors who made this possible.
You are helping create lasting memories in the hearts of these children, and I’m sure they’ll never forget their experience.