Sixteen children from four elementary schools within the Hopkins School District were chauffeured Dec. 12 to Mainstreet. They rode in a limousine to hang out with officers from the Hopkins Police Department for an afternoon of holiday shopping.

The annual “Cops ‘n’ Kids Shopping” event, in its seventh year, grants each child with $150 to spend on gifts—$100 for family members, $50 for themselves—to spend on local Hopkins businesses.

Community members nominated children, ages 11 to 14, and the police department selected them based on strong academic performance and good behavior in school.

Each young person was paired with an officer, who helped check items off his or her wish lists by leading them to participating stores downtown. These businesses gave varying discounts, ranging from 10 to 50 percent off, so the $150 went far if spent strategically.

“We feel very strongly that a positive mentorship or interaction between police and youth is critical for not only their development, but their trust in law enforcement as a whole,” said Police Sgt. Michael Glassberg. “If they trust us, they’re willing to come to us and know that we’re there to help rather than always be seen as a negative.”

JCI Hopkins, formerly known as the Jaycees, a volunteer group of young professionals, donated $3,000 to the cause, which covered each child’s allowance of $150. They have helped sponsor the event for two years, ever since the partnership between the department and Target ended.

Kim Rausch, member and past president of the organization, said JCI was more than willing to rush in and raise money to ensure the event continued.

After shopping, the officers brought the children back to the police station to wrap gifts, followed by a macaroni and cheese dinner.

The wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, snacks and limo ride were all donations from community organizations.

The police department also hosts “Cops ‘n’ Kids Fishing” in June, in which children fish on Lake Minnetonka’s St. Alban’s Bay.

Contact Sabina Badola at sabina.badola@ecm-inc.com.

I am a reporter for the Sun Sailor, covering Minnetonka, Excelsior, Shorewood, Tonka Bay, Deephaven, Greenwood, Woodland and the Hopkins School District.

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