FAIRLAWN, Ohio (WJW) – Hundreds of children across Northeast Ohio have new toys and gifts thanks to their community police officers. Saturday was the annual Shop with a Cop for multiple departments in the area.
Police cars in Wadsworth put on quite the show, but no emergency, just a parade for their annual Shop with a Cop, where police officers take local children Christmas shopping.
In Summit County, they also held their annual Christmas with a Cop Saturday.
“Watching the kids eyes get twice as big as they pull in and go shopping that’s what we’re here for,” said Deputy Michael Hawsman of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
One hundred and forty kids in Summit County were given $150 to spend at Walmart. That money was raised by the community throughout the year. Police officers from all different departments took them around the store. They could buy gifts for family, friends or themselves.
“Officers can individually choose children to take around,” said Officer Lori Natko of the Akron Police Department. “Or we go to local schools in the area and we ask based on need or citizenship. So any child is eligible to come on a shopping spree with us.”
There are a lot of helping hands involved in this. Subway provides lunches and stores like Walmart provide overage costs. It’s an event that unfortunately couldn’t happen in many cities last year because of COVID. But that didn’t stop police officers from finding a way to help.
“We still did 120 families,” said Officer Pamela Helmick, with the University of Akron Police Department. “We got lists and we went shopping and did the gift wrapping and then each department delivered them to the houses.”
This year the shopping was back on and departments went big. In Medina County they took 150 children shopping. They even had a special guest fly in by helicopter: Santa Claus.
Clearly, it was a great day for the kids but also for the police officers who say it’s important to bridge this gap between police and children.
“In this trying time it’s paramount we go into the community and have the relationships that we should with these children so they can come to us with safety or anything they would like as well,” said Officer Scott Moss with the Summa Health Department.
The Christmas with a Cop event in Summit County is so big a committee starts planning one year in advance. Police officers say the hard work is all worth it when they see the kids smiling faces.