MUSCATINE, Iowa–Across Muscatine County, police departments have used Shop with a Cop to help children in need have a good time at the holidays and to build positive relationships with them. This year, three departments got creative to keep this tradition going, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 28 years, the Muscatine Police Department held Shop with a Cop in person, taking a group of Muscatine Community School District students out for an evening of shopping at Walmart and a pizza dinner. In light of the pandemic, they altered their plans for the event and did it virtually. With the help of parents and school counselors, 65 students made lists on Walmart.com of items they would like. The Muscatine Police department then gave the lists to Muscatine Walmart, which graciously had employees do all of the shopping. The officers then picked up the gifts and bagged them up in festive holiday sacks for each child to pick up on Dec. 20 and 21.
Though the event looked distinctly different than in years past, Pena felt grateful that they could continue it. “This year especially, there are so many families in need,” she said. “I am just happy to reward some of these students with the shopping spree.”
Meanwhile, officers from the West Liberty Police Department literally played Santa to help 20 West Liberty Community School District students have happy holidays. After receiving lists from the kids, the officers went to Walmart and personally shopped for each of them. They then had Santa personally deliver the gifts to each child’s house, much to their delight. “It was a bit of a disappointment not to do it the way we usually do, so we had to improvise and it worked just fine,” said Interim Police Chief David Lira. West Liberty has done Shop with a Cop for the past four years.
For the first time ever, the Wilton Police Department held a Shop with a Cop event. With the help of the Wilton Community School District and officers from Atalissa, Durant, West Liberty, the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office, and University Heights, they took 15 students to Walmart to shop for themselves and their families. They then returned to Wilton, where city hall employees provided free gift wrapping to any students who had picked out presents for their families. Wilton Police Chief David Clark, felt the event went off very well. “It was fantastic,” he recalled. “We had a great group of kids and a great group of officers.”