PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Eighteen lucky kids experienced a shopping spree courtesy the Pleasant Prairie Police Department Saturday morning.
The annual Shop with a Cop event was held at Meijer, 7701 Green Bay Rd., during the first snowfall of the season.
Each child received $400 to spend on whatever their hearts desired, and their parents and guardians got a $50 certificate for Woodman’s Market, 7145 120th Ave., to help with Christmas dinner expenses.
Organizer Det. Andrea Brey said she’s grateful the event could be held during the COVID-19 pandemic. All police, volunteers and recipients wore masks. Unlike previous years, however, there were no donuts nor gift wrapping to help keep folks separated. There was plenty of hand sanitizer, too.
“It’s such a Christmasy event, it really gets you in the spirit,” Brey said. “We all got into this profession because we want to help people.”
All funds were raised by the police department, local residents and Meijer. On Saturday, some Meijer shoppers were so moved by the effort they cut checks on the spot to support the cause.
“We thought long and hard if we were going to do it or not, but it’s been such a challenging year financially for some so we wanted to do everything in our power to make it happen,” Brey said. “I contacted all of the parents personally to make sure they felt safe and that it was their choice.”
Elementary schools in the Pleasant Prairie helped suggest kids who could use a little Christmas cheer and benefit from the effort. Brey said middle schoolers made donut-themed masks for the participants and Comfort 4 A Cause made homemade quilts.
Brey said many of the kids purchase gifts for their siblings and parents.
“The kids would spend the whole amount on everything but themselves,” Brey said, adding that the officers help ensure they don’t forget to pick up a few things for themselves.
This is the third year the event has been held at Meijer.
“They’re amazing, so good for us,” she said. “They are incredibly generous.”
Denise Mason, Meijer human resource manager, said she looks forward to this event each year.
“I was really happy they decided to make it work. In the past we had food and drink, but this year we tried to do whatever we could to help with social-distancing,” she said. “It’s really good what they do for the kids every year. … We love to be a part of the joy and to watch the kids get what they deserve and to watch these cops help out these families.”
Shop with a Cop is a union effort and all officers donated their time. Some Pleasant Prairie firefighters also joined in.
Abel Sauceda, 5, attended the event dressed as a police officer. He was chaperoned throughout the store with officer Zach Dutter. On Sauceda’s list: Legos, Play-Doh, a candle for mom and slippers for his sister.
“I love his outfit,” said Dutter, now in his third year of volunteering. “This is what it’s all about. I work third shift so I never get to see little ones. I actually have a little one due probably today or tomorrow.”
Parent Alicia Gomez said she had already cried happy tears a few times Saturday morning before being interviewed by Kenosha.com.
“Money was really tight for this Christmas so it was a really nice gift,” she said, adding that her son, Julio Juarez, couldn’t sleep the night before because he was so excited. “I’m really grateful.”