Cops and Kids helps fill kids’ shopping carts

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 21, 2015

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For another year, Sterling Heights police officers’ annual Cops and Kids event was on target in helping low-income families afford some presents this holiday season.

Officers from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 118 and from the Sterling Heights Police Department teamed up with the Target store at Metropolitan Parkway and Dequindre Road to host a Dec. 12 shopping spree for a preselected group of young people.

An estimated 50 children from underprivileged backgrounds gathered at the store at around 8:30 a.m. that Saturday. According to event organizer Sgt. Randy DePriest, the kids each received about $120 in spending money and were joined by officers, who accompanied them as they shopped around the store.

The event is designed to let young people have their choice of buying toys, clothing and more. After the event, DePriest said the kids often bought games or clothes, but many also bought gifts for others on their own accord, and they didn’t need to be reminded to do so.

“Basically we tell the parents that this is the kids’ money,” he said. “It’s a day for them. They can buy whatever they want to buy.”

After the kids completed their shopping, volunteers helped them wrap certain presents so they could be taken home and placed under the tree for others to open. Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a visit to the store too.

DePriest said this is the 17th year that local police have hosted Cops and Kids. He said part of the event’s purpose is to build community ties with the police, and he added that the event has become one that is rewarding for police officers too.

“You see these kids’ faces that are getting presents,” he said. “They wouldn’t be able to afford (that) without our help. Their parents are in tears at the end, just because their money is going toward food and just living, and they just don’t have the extra money this year for presents.”

Some of the children who were invited to the event may be currently living in a transitional home or in a hotel, he said.

Sterling Heights Community Relations Director Bridget Doyle said the city is involved in multiple charitable efforts around this time of year as a way of giving back to the community. For instance, the Department of Public Works holds a food drive, and the Community Relations Department is in contact with local charities through its Holiday Assistance Program, she said.

“Cops and Kids is very important to the Police Department and the city of Sterling Heights,” she said. “We can’t forget about our residents who may be struggling this time of year.”

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800.

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