Ten Cobleskill-Richmondville students crossed items off their holiday wish lists and filled shopping carts with gifts for their families on Wednesday, Dec. 10, as part of the Cobleskill Police Department’s annual “Shop with a Cop” program.
The students, assisted by officers from the Cobleskill Police Department, traversed the aisles in the village Walmart to buy presents for their families.
They left the store with everything from toys for siblings to clothing and tools for their parents, all thanks to generous donations from the community that afforded each child a budget of $200.
In fact, several shoppers at Walmart stopped village Chief of Police Jeffery Brown in the middle of the store to offer additional donations to “Shop with a Cop,” which has been an annual tradition of the department to support district students since 2015.
“Out of all the things we do, this is No. 1 – it’s the most popular,” Brown said as he helped a student select a holiday sweatshirt for his mother. “I’ve been doing this job for over 27 years, and I’ve never seen anything like the response we’ve gotten from this program.”
In addition to helping students fulfill holiday wish lists, the program offers them the chance to get to know members of the police force.
“It’s an event that helps foster a positive relationship between students and the officers,” said Becky Dostie, a school counselor at Ryder Elementary.
The students – five from Ryder and five from Golding Middle School – came prepared with lists of gifts they hoped to purchase for their families, plus an item or two for themselves. Each student was paired with an officer, who helped guide the student from aisle to aisle as he or she chose their presents.
Once their shopping was complete, the students joined the officers for lunch at Little Italy.
“This is great for the kids,” said Brown, whose officers donned Santa hats for the afternoon. “It gives them the opportunity to hang out with us for a little bit, to see that we’re not scary. And, it’s a chance for them to do a little shopping on their own.”