The holiday spirit was abundant at a Target store in Blaine the afternoon of Dec. 5.
Sixty students from Blaine elementary schools got a fire department ladder truck or in a police squad car for a special shopping experience with heroes.
These heroes were not wearing capes, but blue uniforms and badges.
Shop with a Cop is a national movement that has been around for years. It gives kids who may just see the uniform a chance to get to know police officers as human beings with families of their own.
Blaine started its own Shop with a Cop in has expanded the program to include firefighters and police officers from outside Blaine since school boundaries do extend beyond the city’s borders into communities.
This eighth annual event, now called Heroes and Helpers, included 55 officers and police explorers from the police departments of Blaine, Centennial Lakes and Lino Lakes, deputies from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and firefighters from the Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department and Lino Lakes Fire Division.
Michelle (Moore) Ross, Blaine police officer, has organized this event since its inception.
Ross said the first few years there were about 30 kids involved. It has been 60 students the past two years because the Blaine Festival Committee has supplemented the program along with the Target store in Blaine.
Every child received $100 to buy any gift on their list for a family member or themselves. Ross said some of the kids had to be encouraged to buy something for themselves.
“It’s amazing how most of them were not self-focused,” she said.
There was another $750 available to purchase household necessities. Moore said one officer and a shopper each donated $100 to this fund. Another shopper chipped in $20 when they heard what was happening.
One officer bought a family a vacuum cleaner.
“That was super cool,” Moore said.