Early one sunny Saturday morning this December, the streets of Livermore were filled by Livermore police cars as they escorted fourteen lucky Livermore school kids on a shopping spree most would only get in their dreams. The Third Annual Shop With a Cop program was underway!
On Saturday, December 10, 2011, Livermore Police officers arrived at the homes of children that were selected for the program, and drove them with lights flashing and sirens blaring to Walmart where over sixty members of the Granada High School Band and Leadership Team greeted them.
Donning their new Shop With a Cop t-shirt, which was designed by a GHS Graphic Design student and printed by Shakabuku Designs, each child received a gift card to spend on Christmas gifts. With eyes bright and shining, the kids purchased presents for everyone in their family, and were coached by the officers to purchase an item for themselves.
After having the fun of using their own Walmart gift cards, which were donated by Walmart in Livermore and the Livermore Valley Rotary, the kids and their Cop Buddy left for a yummy breakfast at Emil Villa’s BBQ. They finished their adventure at the police station to wrap their treasures. It was a very positive experience – not only for the kids that were involved – but for the police officers as well.
One little girl asked, “Who is paying for all this?” She was overwhelmed that members of our community would donate money and that their Cop Buddies would donate their time just so they could get gifts for their family. One young man was excited to be the first one to finish shopping and get to BBQ first. He jumped out of the police car, waving excitedly, he felt like he’d won the prize!
The Shop With a Cop program was established to build positive relationships between police officers and the children of the community.
The Shop With a Cop concept has programs nationwide through the involvement of law enforcement agencies. Financial support for the program comes from fundraising with community businesses, retailers and citizens of the community. Livermore AM Rotary, Walmart, Emil Villa’s, Shakabuku Designs, and individual administrators in the Livermore School District, partnered together this year with the Livermore Police Department in what continues to bring joy each year to our students and their families.
Officers donate their time to be involved with the Shop With a Cop program because it allows them to connect with children in a fun and relaxed environment. They can be seen for who they really are. All participating officers will tell anyone that it is an honor and a privilege to be able to help community children in need and to provide them with a memorable event.
Granada High School Vice Principal, Pat Avilla, said,
“I heard through a family friend about Shop With a Cop and how it worked in Southern California. There, a local police department and the local school district teamed together to create this program.
“An administrator at the school site chooses the students and the police officers donate their time to assist with this event. The students are able to see the police in a positive setting and see that they are here to help them. The Officers support the students while they shop with gift cards that have been donated by the community and local businesses. Livermore has always been a supportive and giving community. I was sure that this program would be a success here in Livermore.”
Note: Photo credit Jaimeson Cortez, and the Livermore Patch.