Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald
Holiday shopping can be a stressful task as numbers piles up on credit cards and stores flood with customers.
For 25 Prince Albert children in need, it’s a luxury—that’s why police created the annual Shop with a Cop initiative eight years ago.
On Thursday, students from five different elementary schools were each paired with a police officer.
They had an hour to browse Canadian Tire and buy gifts for their family members with a $100 gift card donated by Crime Stoppers.
Canadian Tire makes all of the kids’ purchases tax-free.
Sgt. Travis Willie organized the event.
“It’s funny because when we first introduce them to partners, they’re nervous and quiet and when we get back on the bus to take them back to school, it’s a little different,” he said. “There’s usually some hugs at the end of the day, which is pretty special to see.”
The High Noon Optimist Club donated $1000, which police used to buy the kids lunch at McDonalds and a gift, as well as wrapping paper they send to the school for their families’ gifts.
Prince Albert Northern Bus Lines also drove them around in the Raiders bus for free.
“We’re all in uniform, but it allows the kids to get to know the officers as people, which is important and I think it’s just positive for our officers and they’re smiling just as much, if not more, than the kids,” said Willie.
Cst. Dwight Leblue was paired with Melody Cook, a grade fiver from Westview Community School.
“I’ve never done this and he’s really nice,” said Cook with a smile on her face.
Leblue said it’s a heartwarming initiative.
“There can be some real negative stuff that happens and that’s all we kind of deal with—nobody calls us when they’re at their best. To come out and do this, it’s a nice change,” he said.
Some of the gifts Cook bought were body spray for her mom, a teddy bear for her kookum and a doll and baby toy for her sister.
“It’s good because we get to meet these kids that don’t always have the best that they should have and like Melody here, just a sweetheart, nice little kid,” said Leblue.
Showing off Cook’s artistic talent, he pulled a McDonalds napkin out of his pocket—she had drawn a picture on it and gave it to him.
Another pair was Cst. Curtis Bradbury and kindergartener Jeremiah from École Vickers School.
One of the gifts he bought was a stuffed animal for his one-year-old baby sister.
“You want to gain their trust and having a day like this and showing them that we’re here to help them, even if it’s something as little as shopping, it’s beneficial and they know in the future that we’re approachable people,” said Bradbury.
Willie added he tries to switch up the schools every year.
The three other schools this year were St. John, St. Michael and Queen Mary Community Schools.
Once Willie notifies the schools that he’d like them to participate, staff from each choose five deserving students for the opportunity.