Isaac Higinbotham, 7, of Lander was all smiles at the Christmas present wrapping table Saturday morning at the 8th annual Shop With A Cop program. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – The 8th annual Shop With A Cop program paired up 107 kids from 48 families with local law enforcement personnel this morning for a shopping spree at the Walmart Superstore. Funds for the program were donated by individuals and businesses all across Fremont County. This year’s event became the largest ever in terms of the number of kids and total funds donated. The event raised some $10,400. A total of 48 children were served last year.
While the Grinch was there, this was the fun and kind hearted one, not the one who stole Christmas. This Grinch, courtesy of Walmart and Nabisco, handed out free packages of Oreo cookies to the kids. But they had to earn it. There was an Oreo stacking contest. Never mind that everyone was a winner, it was a fun diversion during the shopping, and a sweet snack for the kids. The store also provided juice and loaves of bread for all the program participants.
Participating law enforcement agencies included the Riverton and Lander police departments, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Riverton Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program, and the Riverton Police Explorers. Doc Holliday, the municipal court judge in Shoshoni and Pavillion, also participated. Each family was paired with an officer, who had $100 to spend. As the kids went shopping, the officer kept track of the total until it had been spent. Then off to the Christmas wrapping station where the gifts were wrapped by volunteers from the City of Riverton and the PAWS Animal Shelter folks. Members of the Riverton Elks Lodge were also on hand to distribute back pack bags filled with school supplies and such.
Walmart set aside three checkout stations just for the kids and their staff were on hand to help as needed.
The families and officers were all smiles as all 107 kids converged on the store in one wave and spread out buying clothing, accessories, toys, video games, music, and all sorts of odds and ends. There were no rules. The kids could buy for their families, their friends and themselves. The officers were compensated by squeals of delight and many hugs from the children.
“This makes it all worthwhile. As soon as I got that first hug from a kid,” said Riverton Police Captain Eric Murphy who coordinates the program. Children for the program are nominated by the school resource officers in Lander and Riverton, by the Department of Family Services, and this year for the first time, by hospice. “Kids who ordinarily would not have much of a Christmas are the kids eligible for the program,” Murphy said. “We take names for the program all year long.”
Photos by Ernie Over. Mouse over for captions. Click to enlarge.