(BOISE) The sun is barely up, sleepy-eyed kids are all in a line, and one-by-one Boise police officers are filing into the local K-Mart store to form a welcoming committee. It is a Saturday at 7:45 a.m. and Shop with a Cop is about to get underway. The annual tradition took place on August 25, with Broadview University’s support. The campus donated $1,000 to help 10 local children get some of the clothes and supplies they needed to go back to school.
Shop with a Cop is a program sponsored by the Boise Police Association. Each year, the association rallies businesses in the community to help sponsor families who need a little extra help buying school supplies. This year, the organization helped 120 kids—each getting $100 to spend. In addition to the $100, K-Mart gave an extra 10 percent off of the kids’ purchases. On shopping day, each child was paired up with an officer to move about the store. Coats, shoes, pants, and shirts are found in shopping carts along with paper, pencils, and paints.
Nearly 40 police officers showed up to shop on this day—many were just ending their overnight shifts. Detective Smith says some of them are veteran school shoppers—participating in every event since the program started 12 years ago.
“Some of these officers—including me—are student resource officers in local schools,” Smith says, “and we stay in contact with some of the children who go through this program. We’ve built many relationships over the years.”
As children enter the store, one can tell by the looks on their faces whether it’s their first Shop with a Cop experience. But by the end, it’s impossible to tell.
“It can be intimidating at first,” Smith said. “But by the time they hit the checkout line, they’re all grinning from ear-to-ear.”
Shop with a Cop is held twice a year—once during back-to-school time, the other during the holidays. Smith says sometimes, kids choose to buy thing for their parents and family members instead of themselves.