Gadsden County Strike Team and Beyond Before Community Development Corporation partnered with local law enforcement officers to host the third annual Shop with a Cop event on Sunday, December 18.
This year’s event was the biggest one yet.
It began with a hot breakfast provided by St. James Episcopal Church.
The church not only fed the children, officers and other volunteers, but it also fed the children’s parents and other family members.
Uniformed officers then took groups of children through Walmart in Quincy as each of the children picked out $100 worth of items of their choice.
Children from around the county were selected to participate, which is more than ever before.
Markey Rivers, one of the community leaders who helped start the event in Gadsden County in 2020, said Shop with a Cop is meant to bring everyone together.
“We’re partnering kids with law enforcement in a good way,” Rivers said. “That’s what this whole thing is about, bridging the gap between kids and law enforcement.”
Law enforcement agencies from around the county participated in the event.
Rivers said the event’s organizers try to focus on older children who are often overlooked during Christmas giveaways.
“The kids picked out anything they wanted from food, to toys, to bedroom [comforter] sets,” Rivers said.
One popular item this year was Takis, Rivers said.
Rivers said he learned the Mexican brand of rolled corn tortilla chip snack comes in all different colors, as children grabbed bags of them to purchase on Sunday.
Rivers said this year’s Shop with a Cop was coordinated by Stacey Hannigon, Executive Director of Beyond Before Community Development Corporation.
Hannigon said one of the main goals of the event’s organizers is togetherness.
“Every agency comes together to brighten up some child’s holiday,” Hannigon said.
Hannigon said Shop with a Cop has doubled the number of children served in just three years, from 50 in 2020 to 100 this year.
Rivers said he’s looking forward to seeing the event grow even more in the future.
“We’re building the momentum now,” Rivers added.
Rivers said in the future he wants to include more first responders such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
Hannigon said Shop With a Cop was made possible with help from many community partners, including private businesses, churches, and civic organizations, in addition to fundraisers.
By Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service