Area law enforcement officers made the holiday season brighter for a group of Princeton students and their families with a special visit to a local retailer.
“Shop with a Cop” returned to the Princeton Walmart Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Twenty kids each received a $100 gift card and were assisted by officers from the Princeton Police Department, Mille Lacs County and Sherburne County in filling their carts with Christmas gifts.
“This is a great program,” said Princeton Police Chief Todd Frederick. “Officer Nicole Josephes works with the counselors at the schools in the Princeton district to organize this event and identify families that need a little bit of help.”
Frederick said Josephes works with all five Princeton schools when organizing the program, which is financially supported by the Princeton Police Department, Walmart, and Bernick’s, a Waite Park-based beverage supplier and beer distributor.
“Nicole does a great job,” Frederick said. “We basically write a grant to Walmart for $1,000, then Bernick’s in St. Cloud donates $1,000. Then each child gets a $100 gift card.”
Once counselors at the schools determine the participating students, Josephes reaches out to Sherburne County and Mille Lacs County to sign up 20 law enforcement officers to shop with the kids.
“Nicole also reaches out to all of the parents, explains what’s going on, so the students already have a Christmas list in mind,” Frederick explained.
When everyone shows up for the event, each officer and the child basically go around the store and fill out the list.
“My support staff help the people from Walmart, and others come and help wrap presents,” Frederick said. “We get them all wrapped and the nametags attached.”
Each year, Shop with a Cop puts the holiday season into perspective for those working in law enforcement, Frederick said.
“These kids are great. They are so appreciative of what we are doing, and so are their parents. This is a great way for us to interact with the kids, and give back.”