CCPD hosts seventh annual Shop With A Cop program
After a warm breakfast at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, followed by a group photograph in the chilly morning air, 65 children set out to shop for their families for Christmas at Wal-Mart on Monday.
The Cape Coral Police Department hosted its annual Shop With a Cop program for the seventh year, helping local children who are facing difficult challenges experience a more enjoyable holiday season. Each child receives a Wal-Mart gift card, then is paired up with a police officer for a day of shopping.
Devin Morande, 14, an eighth-grader at Challenger Middle School, teamed up with Officer Carl Camady to search for presents for his family. Devin wanted to get gifts for his parents, Bruce and Carol; his 9-year-old sister, Katelyn; and his 14-year-old stepbrother, Tyler.
Devin said he did not have a shopping list, but he did have some ideas in mind. A bit of a jokester, the teen was set on one gag gift for his father: epoxy. He and Camady shared a laugh while talking about it.
“His dad thinks he can fix anything with epoxy,” Camady said, adding that the two planned on buying a big, industrial-size tube of the adhesive.
One large gift Devin had not planned on buying was something for himself.
“He figured that if he bought something a little less for himself, he would have more to spend on them,” Camady said.
Amanda Susi, 16, an 11th-grader at Island Coast High School, was a little more prepared for Monday’s shopping trip — she wandered through Wal-Mart beforehand to figure out exactly what she was going to purchase for each member of her family.
Amanda said her mother, Joann, was getting jewelry while her sisters, 25-year-old Debra and 12-year-old Rachel, would receive perfume and a music album from their favorite artist. Clothes were on the list for her youngest sister, 9-year-old Kelly.
“I’m really thankful because I like being able to do things for other people,” she said, adding that the program has given her the chance to buy gifts for her family for Christmas.
“Money has been tight lately,” Amanda added. “So this is good.”
Marcus Terry, 9, a third-grader from Hector A. Cafferata Junior Elementary, echoed that.
“I think it’s really nice that they have taken the time to help me and my family,” he said. “I think it’s really, really nice.”
Paired up with Officer Adam Davis, Marcus planned to shop for his mother, Royale; his cousin, Jordan; and himself. Video games and video game memory cards topped his shopping list.
Officer Kelvin Thompkins, who was teamed up with Amanda, said he has been participating in Shop With a Cop since it began.
“I love this. It’s part of what the season’s about,” he said, adding that the participating officers and children can have an impact on one another. “I still have contact with some of the kids I worked with six to seven years ago.”
Officer Robert Atkisson said he worked up north as a police officer for 25 years and never encountered a program like Shop With a Cop. Monday marked his third year participating in the program.
“It’s great. It brings joy into the kids’ lives,” Atkisson said. “I never realized how much, really, it means for the kids to come out here.
“It’s a good, positive program,” he said.
According to Cindy Naumann, community outreach program coordinator for the CCPD, 30 percent more children participated in the program this year, compared to 50 youths in 2008. She said this year’s participants are facing a range of challenges, from out-of-work parents to an illness in the family to homelessness.
“You do a lot of things in this job that aren’t always pleasant and rewarding,” Camady said. “This is a treat.”