Over the weekend local law enforcement officials teamed to help 22 young citizens tackle Christmas to-do lists that might otherwise have gone unfinished.
For the first year ever, the Inyo County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and Bishop Police Officers Association partnered with their Mono County counterparts, the Mammoth Lakes Police Officer’s Association and Mono County Deputy’s Association, and the California Highway Patrol to give a group of hand-picked youngsters a Christmas shopping spree.
According to Bishop PD Dispatcher and Police Officers Association Secretary and Treasurer Clancy Batchelder, the four agencies worked with Child Protective Services and Child Care Connection to identify 22 children to participate in the first annual Shop with a Cop event.
The goal was to give the youngsters an opportunity to purchase gifts for their friends and families.
The five officers’ associations donated $200 to each of the children, and Batchelder said many participating officers and deputies contributed a little extra money out of their own pockets to ensure everyone on the child’s list got a present.
The event kicked off Saturday morning with breakfast for the officers and their young shopping partners Saturday morning at Whiskey Creek. From there, the kids had the opportunity to ride in a procession of squad cars with lights and sirens blaring down Main Street.
Once at Bishop Kmart, officers helped guide the kids through the aisles and select gifts.
Some of the cops placed calls to their child’s families to find out what everyone wanted for Christmas.
“It was surprisingly more gratifying than we expected,” Batchelder said. “The kids were great, and they were all really appreciative.”
Once the shopping was done the kids and officers brought their gifts to a group of volunteers to be wrapped, before making one last stop to have a photo taken with Santa Claus.
“Overall, it was great for the kids and the officers,” Batchelder said. “It was just fun. The kids got pajamas, tools, toys, perfume. We are definitely going to do it again.”
The idea to hold a local Shop with a Cop day first came up during the Police Officers’ Appreciation Day in October, when Mammoth Lakes Police Officer Rick Moberly suggested the event.
“Law enforcement agencies from across the nation do this, but we’ve never done one before,” Batchelder said. But once Moberly suggested the idea, the ball started rolling.
Once the five agencies agreed to participate, Vons in Bishop got on board, taking donations to go towards the purchase of presents for the kids, and the four law enforcement associations donated the remainder of the money.
Bishop Kmart agreed to provide a discount for the event.
Batchelder said the Bishop Police Officers’ Association will be accepting donation all year long for next year’s event.
“We’re going to do it again next year, and we’re going to make it bigger,” Batchelder said.