By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — With almost 40 children and 40 police officers all going Christmas shopping at the same time in the Menomonie Walmart for the “Shop With a Cop” event, it must have been kind of a “rush.”
“I had no idea what to expect as this is the first year we participated in this,” said Colfax Police Chief William Anderson.
Shop With a Cop took place on Saturday, December 9, and involved less-fortunate children from around Dunn County along with a number of law enforcement agencies including the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, the UW-Stout Police Department, the Menomonie Police Department, the Colfax Police Department and the Boyceville Police Department.
Participants also included personnel from the Dunn County Department of Human Services and administrative staff from the police departments and the Dunn County District Attorney’s office.
“We have a wonderful support system and could not have done it without the support of the community,” said Brenna Jasper, a crime prevention specialist with the Menomonie Police Department.
The $3,700 in gift cards for the shopping expedition were purchased with funding provided by individuals and businesses in the community, Jasper noted.
The children ranged in age from one or two to 16 years old, Police Chief Anderson said.
The families were selected through referrals from partner organizations such as school districts in Dunn County and Dunn County Human Services. The police officers themselves also made referrals, Jasper said.
Six of the approximately 40 police officers were from the Colfax Police Department, and in addition to Police Chief Anderson, included Officer Josh Shipman, Officer Ciara Branshaw, Officer Chris Knaus, Officer Kurt Devroy and Officer Ashley Lande.
“We all met at McDonald’s in Menomonie at 8:45 a.m., and the McDonald’s donated breakfast for all of the children, families and officers, more than 80 meals in all,” Police Chief Anderson said.
“We were each assigned a child to go shopping with, and we sat down and had breakfast with them. It consisted of pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee. By 10 a.m., we all went to Walmart in Menomonie where they had set up an area in their garden center where we could all gather,” he said.
Walmart and McDonald’s both “went above and beyond,” Jasper said.
“Each officer and child was given a $100 Walmart gift card, and you would grab a cart and go with the kid and let him or her shop. They would pick out anything from toys, to clothes, to bikes or skateboards,” Police Chief Anderson said.
“My particular kid (an 11-year-old boy) got a remote controlled helicopter, a remote controlled car, some skates, a sweatshirt and sweat pant outfit, some other clothes, and some small miscellaneous toys,” he said.
After the youngsters and police officers were done shopping, they went back to garden center where Walmart had checkout counters set up specifically for the event.
“If the child wanted the gifts wrapped, they had a bunch of people set up at tables wrapping their gifts, while coffee, hot chocolate, cider, cookies and doughnuts were available for everyone. We had our pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a few large group photos as well,” Police Chief Anderson said.
At the Colfax Village Board’s December 11 meeting, Gary Stene, village president, along with various village board members, talked about the Colfax Police Department’s participation in the Shop With a Cop event.
Stene and the other board members said they were extremely pleased the Colfax Police Department had been able to participate and commended all the officers for volunteering their time.
Donors and sponsors for Shop With a Cop included Bremer Bank, Cedar Corporation, Community Foundation of Dunn County, ConAgra Foods, Culver’s Frozen Custard, Dairy State Bank, Dunn Energy Cooperative, the employees of Phillips Medisize, Fairmount Santrol, Iris Boutique, Keyes Chevytown, La Dee Dah, Larry Jess Foundation (Sunrise Rotary), Livestock Trucking, Marketplace Foods, National Mutual Benefit Branch 927, RIZE Nutrition, Walmart Foundation, WESTconsin Credit Union, Women of the Moose, as well as various individual donors.
“All of us had a great time doing this with the kids,” Police Chief Anderson said.
“It was worth it to see those faces light up when they were shopping. In this profession, it seems as if there are few opportunities to have fun and associate with the public in this kind of manner and having such a positive impact,” he said.
“This would definitely be one of (those opportunities), and we all for sure would do it again,” Police Chief Anderson said.