The early morning fog was broken with the bright lights of Brentwood and Oakley’s finest rolling into one of Brentwood’s historic breakfast joints filled with tentatively excited young faces ready to fill their tummies and their gift bags, while the community filled their hearts. The morning of the Brentwood Police Activities League 5th annual “Shop with a Cop” event was buzzing with energy before the sun could even break through the winter fog.
Shop with a Cop
Shop with a Cop is a program that holds a special place for the people who represent our local police departments. It is a fun-filled, heart-warming day where children are brought on a shopping spree at Slatten Ranch’s Target, escorted by a police officer and a Target employee.
Office Michael Rucker, who organizes Shop with A Cop through the Brentwood Police Activities League works closely with surrounding school districts and Slatten Ranch Target to create a fun-filled day for children whose lives have been impacted in ways beyond their control. It is a way the local Police department can help community youth and their families during the holiday season. After PAL’s Shop with a Cop event, participants go home with over $250 dollars’ worth of toys, clothes or home accessories that Target sells to them at a wonderfully discounted price.
PAL works closely with local Unified School districts to identify children who could truly benefit from a Target shopping spree. The event takes approximately four months of planning and a community network of:
- school teachers
- school resources officers
- local businesses
It is a lot of moving parts that culminate into a morning of memories for every single person that walks through the aisles during the Shop With A Cop Event.
A Day Filled
On the morning of the event, children and police officers begin their day at the Brentwood Café in downtown Brentwood. Kids and police officers alike are treated to a traditional breakfast of their choice by Paul Boulos, owner of Brentwood Café. Santa Claus comes for a visit after breakfast and then the kids are swept to Antioch’s Target in Brentwood police cars, lights and sirens blaring. It is a great opportunity for police officers and children to begin to form a friendly relationship before they take to shopping.
When the troop of children and officers arrive to Target, they are met with a Target employee who will assist them during the shopping spree. Each trio is awarded $250 that the child can choose how to spend. For some children, clothes and new shoes are on the top of the list – while others are looking for gifts for their family, friends, and teachers. Many of the participants are just looking for the basics their family needs to get by: food, soap, and detergents. What seems to pull at the heartstrings of each adult is they can see how each child values the shopping spree for their family…and they work hard to make decisions that really will benefit their entire family, and not just themselves.
Why They Do It
The list of why PAL, the Brentwood Café, and even Target decide to participate in this annual event is long. Everyone has a special reason as to why they volunteer their time and dedicate it to a child in need. Some police officers report they love the community service aspect of the event. It allows them to foster relationships with students who might not otherwise have the chance to get to know a police officer as a person with a family and not just an officer of the law. Other volunteers explained that the morning is so memorable, it just sets the holiday mood and lifts spirits. However, almost everyone enjoys spending time with the youth and helping out. Plus, it is a fun event where you can see the impact it has on the children it was designed to help.
Who Does Shop With A Cop Help?
Shop with a Cop is an event that provides more for the community and the participants than may initially be seen. Of course, the local youth population is immediately impacted by the event. The students are selected from the local school district and are all children who have been impacted by events far beyond their control. This gift is a chance for police officers to remind these children they are important, seen, and a valuable part of the community.
Second, this event is a powerful event for the members of the Brentwood and Oakley Police Departments, the members of the Brentwood Police Activities League, the employees of Target and employees of the Brentwood Café, as well as the dozens of other volunteers an event of this magnitude takes to put together. People see and experience, first hand, how a small gesture of time and attention can have a powerful influence over a child. Plus, it is another positive interaction local police officers can have on the community – imperative in the age of news that does not always paint our community helpers in the best light.
How Can You Help With Shop With A Cop?
The funding for this event does not stem directly from the Brentwood Police Department. Members of PAL work diligently all year to collect funds to be able to provide this gift and experience to our local children in-need. Donations are always welcomed and accepted. Donations can be dropped off at 9100 Brentwood Blvd. Checks can be made out to Brentwood PAL. You can also reach out to Office Rucker to learn how you can help: email@example.com.
How The Day Ends
Finally, children and their police partners meet to wrap their haul. And as students place the final ribbons on their beautifully wrapped gifts, it is clear the day is coming to a close. The symbolism of the bows atop the uniquely wrapped presents cannot be overlooked. The joy on the faces of everyone involved truly is the shiny bow gently placed atop a powerful day of people and community giving.
There is no doubt that Shop With a Cop is an important piece of our local landscape and a gift to everyone involved. From the teachers and administrators to the police department and the representatives of Target, each and every person helped to create a safe place for children who deserve nothing less. The holiday season can be a time where we become so wrapped up in our own holiday events and family needs. We become blind to the people who most need our attention and help. PAL does a phenomenal job of ensuring our students have a special holiday season as well. This is a simple way to change lives.
This is just one of many ways you can help as you explore our local backroads.
A Thank You To Our Sponsor
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