OMAK – The annual Shop with a Cop event is planned Dec. 22 by local law enforcement agencies.
The event brings together off-duty police officers who volunteer their time to entertain and go shopping with youngsters whose families need a helping hand during the holidays. About 25-30 children ages 6-12 are referred to the program by the Support Center, which assists victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.
The format will be the same as in past years, said Okanogan County Coroner Dave Rodriguez, who is coordinating the event. Youngsters and officers, who are volunteering their time, will go bowling at Valley Lanes, 740 Riverside Drive, have lunch and then go in patrol vehicles – with lights and sirens – to Walmart, 902 Engh Road, for a shopping spree.
Each officer, armed with a list of desired items, will chaperone a couple kids through the store. Each child will have an assigned amount of money to spend, with most going toward necessities such as coats or clothing and the rest going for things chosen by the children.
Rodriguez said the youngsters often buy toys, sports equipment and clothing, but some also purchase gifts for siblings not participating in the program or other loved ones.
“It kind of touches you” when that happens, he said.
He praised Valley Lanes and Walmart for their participation in the program.
Shop with a Cop is supported by donations, including a recent, larger one from employees of the U.S. Forest Service in the Methow Valley. Other businesses and groups donate year after year, Rodriguez said.
People can donate by sending a check to the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, 123 N. Fifth Ave., Okanogan, WA 98840. Checks should be made out to the sheriff’s office, with Shop with a Cop in the memo line, said Rodriguez.