Annual Shop with a Cop program helps local families in need
In a dour economy, a charity event conducted by the Cape Coral Police Department took on new meaning this year.
About 50 police officers volunteered for the 6th Annual Shop with a Cop program Monday, and helped Cape children shop for Christmas presents with the aid of gift certificates from Wal-Mart.
Eligible children from kindergarten to 12th grade were nominated by their schools, but some had to be turned away because of the increased number of nominations this year.
“We had probably twice as many more nominations of kids this year,” said Cindy Nauman, community outreach programs coordinator for the police department.
“There were so many students this year who were losing their homes. It’s been a hard year,” Nauman added.
Officers and the children met at Perkins on Cape Coral Parkway for breakfast before heading to Wal-Mart on Del Prado Boulevard South. Gift certificates for the department store were then handed out — the children received $50 for themselves and $20 for each family member.
The officers were supposed to help their young shoppers find the perfect gifts, but some did not need help at all.
Sgt. Lisa Barnes said that after initial thoughts of iPods, digital cameras and other electronic items, her 15-year-old shopper from Challenger Middle School got more practical with her $125 budget.
“She got new clothes for her mom and sister. She thought it was just great,” Barnes said.
Barnes said the children are feeling the pinch in the economy, too, and noticed the pragmatic gift choices of coffee makers and other appliances.
“Kids can kind of sense what’s going on with the economy. It’s really unique how they get things for others before they get things for themselves,” Barnes said.
After a few hours of shopping the group headed to Carrabba’s on Pine Island Road for lunch and to wrap presents.
Some people who were all thumbs with wrapping turned to Barnes for help.
“Yes, I did all the wrapping,” said Barnes, who was the last to leave the restaurant.