Shop with a Cop delivered this year

This year’s Shop with a Cop event looked a bit different due to COVID-19. Instead of the children shopping with the officers from the Danville Police Department and the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office, officers had wish lists from the children and went to Wal-Mart on Dec. 17 to shop with $200 for each child’s gifts. One officer was assigned to each child. Then, the officers took the gifts to The Showroom on Lebanon Road to wrap them and personally delivered the gifts to the children’s homes.

“At the end of the day, as long as it’s happening, that’s all that matters is we are still able to do it,” said DPD assistant police chief Glenn Doan before the event.

Doan said the DPD donated $1,000 from its budget to the program this year, and Jennifer Gaddis, a court designated specialist at the Boyle County Courthouse and a coordinator of the program, said she is thankful for this donation and all those received, including a sizable one from Cornerstone Assembly of God.

Gaddis said Shop with a Cop was able to serve 22 children this year, and the children are chosen through family resource coordinators at schools in the county. She said the event was able to serve fewer children and got less money from donations this year possibly due to the pandemic, but she said she wanted to do it this year and serve as many families as possible because families are having a difficult time financially. Last year the event served 30 children, and the goal for next year is 40.

She said she missed the usual one-on-one interactions the officers had with children in previous years.

“They probably enjoy it just as much, if not more, than the kids do,” she said.

Usually, the children show the officers what they want. Several of the children also want to pick out gifts for their families rather than just for themselves. In previous years, the officers and the children have gone to get a meal at Cheddar’s after shopping, but that didn’t happen due to the pandemic and concerns of possible risk. The meals together are especially meaningful since many of the children may not get to eat out often due to their families’ financial strain, Gaddis said. And this event gives children the chance to have positive interactions with officers, she said, which is important to her partially because she’s a social worker.

“I want that positive interaction with our law enforcement so they know they’re there,” she said. “If they need anything, they can go to them, and that’s probably the most important thing to me. So that’s why this year was hard, but we plan on being back to doing that next year.”

But there was still the opportunity for one-on-one interactions since the officers delivered the gifts to families’ homes.

Last year, about $2,500 from the Johnny Cocanougher’s Memorial 5K Run or Walk went to Shop with a Cop, but the run didn’t happen this year and is hoped to happen next year.

Casey McCoy, a captain with the BCSO, picked out gifts for a 10-year-old boy in Junction City for Shop with a Cop. He said he missed seeing the children’s faces and excitement during the event and said having the children with the officers also typically made it easier to know what the kids wanted.

As Paul Megilligan, a detective for the DPD, shopped for a 15-year-old girl, he said last year he shopped with a little girl who kept wanting to pick things out for her family, thinking less about herself.

One of the positive things about how Shop with a Cop worked this year is that children were able to unwrap gifts and have a surprise, he said.

But, he said, when children shop with the officers “It’s a whole lot more fun.”