Cops and Kids go Christmas shopping
Forty local kids got the opportunity to shop for Christmas presents with law enforcement Tuesday morning at the Target in Wesley Chapel.
The annual COPS AND KIDS event was hosted by the Monroe Union Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #19 and began around 8 a.m.
The children participating ranged in age from kindergarten to fifth grade and were given $150 to shop with. Of the $150, $75 had to be spent on clothes while another $75 had to be spent on toys.
"It's great shopping with the kids," Lt. Mark Coan of the Monroe Police Department said.
He has participated in the event in the past and felt that there were a lot more officers who turned out for this year's event, he said.
In addition to members of the Monroe Police Department, members of the Union County Sheriff's Office, Marshville Police Department, and Waxhaw Police department also attended as well as members of the Union County Sheriff's Office and Waxhaw Police Department explorer groups.
After a few greetings and directions from Mrs. Claus, Target opened its doors to participating children and their parents who were greeted by both Mrs. Claus and Santa as they entered. Parents waited near the front of the store as children were paired with officers and explorers from various agencies. The first stop on their shopping trip was in the store's clothing section. Afterwards, everyone headed to the toy section to complete their shopping trip.
"I enjoy it, I think it's something great for the children," Christina Crews, whose 9-year-old daughter participated in the event, said.
She and other parents felt similarly and were glad to see the smiles on their children's faces as they went off to shop with police officers.
"I think it's great the community does something like this for the kids," Christine Tullock, whose two daughters participated in the event, said.
Her father, who recently passed away, was a police officer in New Jersey and she was glad to see her children and others get a chance to interact with law enforcement as they shopped for various items throughout the store, she said.
Tim Byrd, whose son and daughter also participated in the event, was also happy about it.
"I think it's a good program. I like the idea of cops giving back and helping out the community," Byrd said.
His daughter, Caitlin, 9, looked forward to getting Barbies and Barbie related items during the event while his son, Deacon, 8, looked forward to getting LEGOs.
Other items on the children's wish lists Tuesday included, baby dolls, games, toy strollers, Littlest Pet Shop toys and others.
The county's Christmas Bureau depending on need chose the children who participated in the event, Gloria Haney, the Christmas Bureau's volunteer coordinator, said.
"What we try to do is select children from all the schools in Union County," she said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus were available throughout the event for pictures and after the children and participating officers completed the shopping trip, the clothes and toys they collected were given to elves who would get the items to Santa who would then make sure to deliver them on Christmas Eve. After shopping, event participants enjoyed a breakfast provided by Chick-fil-A and an after shopping Christmas party provided by Target.
"It's the highlight of the Christmas year for officers," Elizabeth Cooke, who works with the Monroe Union Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 19's COPS AND KIDS committee, said.
Officers could be found socializing and laughing throughout the event with the children they were paired with and some appeared to be having just as much fun as the children who participated.
"I think it's a wonderful thing. There's a lot of kids who are unfortunate. This (COPS AND KIDS) is helping them get some Christmas," Alwanna Owens, a parent of two girls who participated in Tuesday's event, said.