Police officers see a lot when they are out patrolling the streets every day. There are car wrecks, domestic disputes, fatal stabbings, abused children and numerous other sorrows they witness.
Shop with a Cop provides a break from all that, even if it is only for just a few hours.
“It is the best thing ever for us. All of the things we deal with as police officers on the street, all the trauma we see and the stressful situations, for us to come over here and see the smiles on these kids faces when they get a Christmas, it is the best feeling ever,” Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said Thursday evening.
“We look forward to it every year. We have been doing it a long time. It gets better every year. All the guys look forward to it, and we have some new guys here, who have never had the chance to do it. They are excited about it. It is just a good thing all around.”
Williamsburg police, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, state police and numerous volunteers took over 120 children on $100 shopping sprees at Wal-Mart Thursday as part of the Williamsburg Police Department’s 14th Annual Shop with a Cop event.
In all they spent a little over $12,000 on less fortunate children.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said that Shop with a Cop is his favorite event every year.
“It is the one thing we work on all year long. We kind of look forward to it. It is hectic, but the smiles on the kids faces and the thank yous and the hugs that you get make every day that we had to do something for it special,” Harrison said. “It is a great event. I do love it.”
Harrison said Shop with a Cop just makes Christmas for him.
“When it comes to Christmas I am that old traditional kind of guy. That may shock some people, but I love the thought of Santa Claus. Except for the real man coming, this is about as close as you can get,” Harrison said.
“To me it is rewarding to watch the kids that you think possibly might not have the Christmas that maybe some others would. It is the most rewarding thing that I can think of.”
Harrison added that Thursday evening, people already started giving donations towards next year’s event.
Terri Blakley, who has three children ages 18, 12 and 6 that took part in Friday’s event, said that Shop with a Cop is more valuable to parents than she can explain.
“It is definitely a life saver,” Blakley said. “It is amazing. We absolutely love it. It has really helped out a whole lot.”