‘Shop with a Cop’ is a treat for police and Richmond youth
on December 23, 2012
The wheels almost outnumbered the children Saturday morning, as vehicles lined up outside the Richmond Police Activities League to chauffeur the more than 25 kids to the mall that day. The choice was a tough one; the shiny white limousine offered a glamorous ride, but the police car with flashing lights and the occasional siren gave the opportunity to ride with a Richmond police officer.
Three days before Christmas, the Richmond Police Activities League held its fourth “Shop with a Cop” event, which gave children in Richmond an opportunity to shop for themselves or loved ones, while being escorted by a police officer.
“This is without a doubt my favorite event,” Lt. Lori Curran said. “This is a time where officers can be with the kids and just be kids again.”
This year was the first that RPAL took the kids shopping at the Hilltop Mall– in prior years, it had been held at Target.
Larry Lewis, the Executive Director of RPAL, said that the generous donations of members of the RPAL Board, the Richmond Police Officer Association, and even employees at the mall allowed the group to have $100 for each child to spend.
Lewis said what strikes him the most is that the majority of the kids have the “heart and the fortitude” to want to buy gifts for others, and not buy gifts for themselves.
Shortly before leaving the RPAL headquarters, Aaliyah Washington’s mother Edna Campbell insisted her daughter fulfill an unusual request.
“Promise me you’ll get something for yourself,” Campbell said to Washington, who was so excited the night before that she didn’t sleep.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” Lewis said. “Seeing the excitement on their faces.”
The day was intended to make the kids feel special. They received a police escort to the mall, took a picture with Santa, and received complimentary gift bags from department stores.
Unsolicited kindness came from patrons at the mall as well. When one customer realized what the police officers were doing, she handed Officer Delon Jackson coupons for Macy’s.
Several of the boys were shopping practically. Nine-year-old Rickey Duffy was looking for jeans, while Michael Levingston was buying sweat pants. Officer Ben Therriault, who was shopping with Levingston, said it was important to get the size right the first time, since their parents may not be able to get transportation back to make an exchange.
After buying their gifts, the kids were given rides back to the RPAL building, where all the accouterments necessary for gift-wrapping were available to them.
“This reminds everybody what the Christmas season is all about,” Curran said. “This is why we do what we do.”
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