Sixty fortunate children were given an opportunity to participate in this year’s Shop With a Cop in Cleveland. The two-night event, held Dec. 11 and 12, allowed 30 children each night to shop for Christmas gifts at Walmart alongside local law enforcement officers.
This year’s Shop With a Cop marked the fifth year for the annual event, which has helped hundreds of children who otherwise would not have received Christmas presents. Organized by Sis. Juanita Lewis with Resurrection Ministries, Shop With a Cop provided the children with $50 gift cards that they could spend on any items they wanted in the store.
The toy aisle of Walmart was the most popular destination for the children, though some opted to shop for clothing or a small item for their mother or father.
“This was an opportunity for those who might not have had a Christmas to enjoy the holiday. The families also get to enjoy a great relationship with our Walmart store and the police officers who participated. It was an opportunity for the children to see that the officers are human. They like children and toys, and want to have fun as well,” said Aaron Weddington, store manager for Cleveland Walmart.
The sponsors for the event included Woodforest Bank, Fat Floyd’s Smokehouse, Agave Mexican Restaurant and Pueblo Viejo.
“Everybody chipped in. The cops have been really nice. The kids who went over the amount of their gift cards had the rest paid for by some of the officers,” said Debra Terry, a longtime Walmart employee who helps organize the event every year.
Pct. 5 Deputy Constable Laci Pierce was one of the officers who was paired with some of the children. Pierce has participated since 2016 and says she looks forward to it every Christmas season.
“I really like the interaction with the kids. Unfortunately, what is portrayed in the media about law enforcement is different than reality. Children are often taught that cops are the bad guys. This is an opportunity for us to show them that is not the case. We are just normal people like them,” Pierce said. “It’s a chance to put a smile on their face for Christmas. We know that many families are struggling and I believe no kid should go without.”