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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — For the second year in a row, the Colfax Police Department participated in “Shop with a Cop” held December 1 at the Menomonie Walmart store.
All together, 40 less-fortunate youngsters from Dunn County were able to go shopping with about 40 police officers from the Colfax Police Department, the Boyceville Police Department, the Menomonie Police Department, the UW-Stout Police Department and the Dunn County Sheriff’s 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.
This year, Police Chief William Anderson and Officer Ciara Branshaw participated from Colfax.
Before they went shopping, the officers ate breakfast — donated by the McDonalds restaurant in Menomonie — with the children to whom they were assigned.
After breakfast, the police officers went shopping with the kids. Each child can spend up to $100.
“They usually have a list of what they want, and it varies from child to child. Mine did mostly toys while others get lots of clothes,” Police Chief Anderson said.
“I was paired with a six-year-old boy who is in temporary housing with his mother. He was great!” Police Chief Anderson said.
“He really likes law enforcement officers, and he thanked me and hugged me several times for doing this with him,” the police chief said.
When the children are done shopping, the police officers help them check out, and then the youngsters have the option of getting their items wrapped in Christmas paper. They also can have juice and cookies and meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“This event is organized very well. Brenna Jasper (with the Menomonie Police Department) does an outstanding job, and it is unbelievable how she puts this together,” Police Chief Anderson said.
Jasper is a crime prevention specialist.
“Walmart was wonderful as well. They help out and section off the Garden Center for just this purpose, with employees dedicated just to this event to assist with anything that might be needed,” Police Chief Anderson said.
The approximately $4,000 in gift cards for the shopping expedition were purchased with funding provided by individuals and businesses in the community.
Families are selected through referrals from partner organizations such as school districts in Dunn County and Dunn County Human Services. The police officers themselves also make referrals.
After last year’s event, Police Chief Anderson said since there seems to be few opportunities for police officers to have fun and associate with the public, law enforcement officers who participate in “Shop With a Cop” are especially appreciative of an opportunity to have a positive impact on the community.