The Canadian Tire in Prince Albert was a popular spot on Wednesday as the Prince Albert Police Services annual Shop With a Cop event returned as an in-person event.
Travis Willie, Staff Sergeant in charge of Criminal Investigations for PAPS, has been involved from the start. He considers the event to be a special one.
“I have been lucky enough to be around since the very first Shop with a Cop (in) I don’t even remember what year now,” Willie said. “I was a young officer at the time and I have always been lucky to be a part of it and be involved with these kids. I am as excited as the kids are to do this. It makes a positive impact on my day and month.”
Willie was shopping with Kika from Berezowsky School and Mahekan from John Diefenbaker School.
“They have never met each other before today,” Willie said. “We have got 25 kids from five different schools. I partnered up with these two.”
After filling their cart, mostly in the toy aisles, there was some other work to be done to meet the $100 limit for each child.
“This is pretty easy but we have got to do some budgeting now,” Willie said.
Kika found items for everyone she was shopping for.
“I really want to go shopping because my parents let me,” she said.
Kika said the experience was fun for her.
“We are very busy. (I am shopping) for my parents and for my mom and dad and my sister,” she explained.
The High Noon Optimist Club contributed $1,500 to help fund the program. Schools from the Prince Albert Catholic and Saskatchewan Rivers School Divisions were able to participate in the event, which was organized by the Community Services section of the police service.
The Shop with a Cop program started around 2008 and has been an annual event for the organization ever since.
“Each students gets $100 to spend on gifts for their family,” Charlene Tebbutt public relations and media coordinator for PAPS said.
Each of the participating students also received a gumball machine as well.
“The Prince Albert High Noon Optimist Club donated $1,500 towards the program and some wrapping paper. What they will do when we drop them off is give them some wrapping paper and let them wrap their gifts and everything. We have had a lot of great participation,” Tebbutt said.
Participation from the service crossed over most parts of the division.
“We have got officers from patrol, community policing, we have got community safety officers, we have administration, we also have members from right across the organization participating and it’s really a big highlight for everyone here. We are just as excited as the kids,” she said.
Prince Albert Northern Buslines covered the cost of the bus for the day, which began at McDonald’s.
“And they brought the Raiders bus which is always a special treat,” Tebbutt said.
McDonalds on Second Avenue covered the cost of meals for all 25 students, who were allowed to order whatever they wanted.
PAPS Elder Liz Settee and Chaplain Nora Vedress also participated in the event. There was also an appearance by one of the PAPS service dogs and their handler. The 2022 Shop with a Cop program was made possible thanks to continued support from the Prince Albert High Noon Optimist Club and local businesses including Canadian Tire and McDonald’s.
The Prince Albert Police Service said they appreciate the support and effort from their local community partners in helping to make the holiday season a little brighter for local children and their families.