Shop with a Cop helps families in need

Shop with a Cop helps families in need

December 16th, 2012 by Rachel Bunn in Local Regional News

Officer Josh May points out an aisle full of baseball bats to Aiden Neal, 7, during Shop with a Cop at Target in Chattanooga on Saturday. The event, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police, Rock City Lodge No. 22, helps around 100 underprivileged children pick out holiday gifts for themselves and their families.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

Jimmy Rodgers, 7, scurried eagerly through the toy aisles of Target on Saturday, piling toys into the cart steered by Chattanooga Police Patrol Officer Mike Russ and his wife, Angela.

"You've got some good stuff in here," Mike Russ said.

Though he changed toy selections a few times, Jimmy felt satisfied with his final selections - action figures and board games, including one based on the popular cellphone game Angry Birds.

"Yeah, I'm happy with them," he said of his choices.

Jimmy and the Russes were one of the many teams of police officers and kids crowding the aisles of Target for Shop with a Cop, an event organized by the Fraternal Order of Police.

For more than 20 years, Shop with a Cop has provided Christmas presents to children in what officers consider the 100 neediest families they've encountered this year, said Sgt. Toby Hewitt, FOP president.

"A lot of times the interactions these kids have with police are when Mom, Dad or some other family member is being taken away," he said. "We like to bring the kids out here and show them we're not always the bad guys taking Mom and Dad away."

Police officers from all municipalities in Hamilton County and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department gather names of children throughout the year when they are out on service calls, or through social workers and other community members.

Each child is given $150 to spend on anything in the store. The program uses donations to provide the kids with the presents, including long-term donor the Miller Foundation, Hewitt said.

Target also provided the children and their families with snacks.