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Santa Cops: Shopping program provides for a brighter holiday

By Staff | Dec 24, 2011

Christmas morning will be a little brighter this year for 35 Cape Coral families thanks to the annual Shop with a Cop program and its sponsors.

Marking its ninth year, the program pairs local children with Cape police officers for a morning of Christmas shopping for their families, as well as themselves. Gift cards provided by Wal-Mart and Capital Bank are used.

On Thursday morning, the officers picked up nearly three dozen children from their homes and first treated them to a filling Perkins breakfast. Next, the duos headed to Wal-Mart to do some shopping, some with lists in hand.

Officer Jennifer Bochett accompanied Angelica Cruzmorales, 9.

“It’s cool,” Angelica said of shopping with Bochett.

She added that her family would be excited about their gifts.

Angelica was given $225 to shop for 10 people, which included her parents and her five brothers.

She bought a variety of gifts, including toys, clothes and something special for her mom.

“She helped me out,” she said of Bochett and the long shopping list.

Bochett also made sure Angelica picked something for herself – a baby doll and lipsticks. This was the fifth year Bochett participated in the program.

“I think it’s a great way to give back to the community,” she said, adding that it provides officers with a chance to positively interact with youth.

“We want them to see us in a positive light, in a positive way,” Bochett said.

Sgt. Carlos Mena partnered up with Spencer Kirkwood, 9.

Spencer shopped for his two brothers, his sister and his mother. His selections also included a pretty good variety.

Asked if his family would be excited about the gifts, Spencer said he expected most everyone would be happy.

Mena said this was the first year that he could participate in the program.

“It’s awesome,” he said of the experience. “It’s great.”

Mena noted that while they were shopping, a regular citizen in the store stopped the duo and handed them a $10 gift card to use. The woman told them that she is a grandmother and her grandchildren have enough gifts.

Once the shopping was complete, the children were escorted back to police headquarters, where the gifts were wrapped and all were treated to Chicago Pizza. Officers then returned the children to their homes, presents in hand.

Cindy Naumann, community outreach program coordinator for the CCPD and the organizer behind the Shop with a Cop program, explained that 178 family members in total will benefit this year through the 35 participating families.

There was about $10,000 used for the event, including the shopping, gift wrapping, breakfast and lunch.

Each child typically receives $50 to spend on themselves, then an extra $20 for each family member that they shop for.

“We do it because it’s a good positive way for the officers to interact with the community,” Naumann said of the program.

She added that there were no issues this year – sometimes officers get sick and a child is left without a partner – so everything ran smoothly.

Capital Bank, formerly TIB Bank, was a sponsor for the second year. Libby Knight, assistant vice president and branch manager at the location on Cape Coral Parkway, said she hopes that the bank can help sponsor it next year.

“Because we’re a community bank,” Knight said of their involvement.