'Shop with a Cop' brings holiday cheer to kids in need

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Dozens of Valley kids got a little early holiday cheer Thursday morning, as they headed to a local Target for a very special shopping trip.

Around 80 kids teamed up with police officers for the 4th annual "Shop with a Cop" event at the Phoenix Spectrum Target.

Shop with a Cop brings together local police agencies and kids for a day of Christmas shopping.

The children were selected by Phoenix Police Community Action officers, School Resource Officers, or other Phoenix Police Patrol Officers, based on families who have been identified as being in need of assistance.

"The annual "Shop with a Cop" opens the door for our most precious assets, our children, to bond with a police officer and to interact while they shop, historically, for family members and then themselves," says Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department.

And police say the young shoppers are all great kids! "They've got to be good students," says Holmes. "They have to get good grades. They have to help out at home in order to be eligible."

The day started with breakfast and a visit with "Blue Santa Claus," who arrived in a police helicopter. Bruce Haffner gave us a birds-eye view of Santa's journey as he flew his Penguin Air News Chopper alongside Santa's "heli-sleigh."

Then, it was time to shop. Each child was given $150 to spend. $75 was earmarked for clothing, and $75 for toys.

"We know that sometimes officers have to respond and are in bad situations, but we have absolutely got to encourage these kids and get them to understand that we are their friends, that officers are good people, and will do good things for them if they give us a chance," says Holmes.

The Shop with a Cop event is made possible through donations from the event sponsors, including Target, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association/PLEA Charities, Phoenix Police Chiefs and Commanders, and community supporters.