Annual Shop with a Cop program next Saturday

    Photo courtesy of Shop with a Cop - Capital City Chapter of Alaska Peace Officers Association Facebook page.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - About 30 kids from various nominations will be selected to join the annual Shop with a Cop program next weekend.

    Kirt Stage-Harvey, a detective with JPD and a board member of the Alaska Peace Officers Association talked about the program. He's been involved for about eight years.

    He said he'll be in uniform, get assigned a child, and bring his son with him to help with the program.

    "We're going to be doing this at Fred Meyer. And the event this year will be on Saturday, December the 17th. We get nominations to start with from schools and teachers and counselors and service personnel and families to nominate the kids for the program. We get typically over 150 names of children every year between the ages of five and 17. We sort through these nominations and check with some of the families in the schools on the stories, what these kids are dealing with. We try and pick out the ones that we're able to serve the best and then we pair them with an officer. We have usually about 30 kids that we try and serve with the amount of time and volunteers that we have. It's very hard to sort through and pick just 30 kids. Last year we had a record amount of kids, 31 that participated. Each officer who volunteers to shop with the kid will do a lot of work on their own, calling the families to find out more. Then we'll all meet here at the Juneau Police Department for treats and hot chocolate and a photo. Santa will be here as well on Saturday the 17th, so kids can visit with Santa."

    He spoke about what else goes into Shop with a Cop, other activities, and community members.

    "We'll have a parade, a Santa Parade. Lights and sirens of all the vehicles will be going intermittently from JPD all the way down Glacier Highway to Fred Meyer. Fred Meyer is a big partner of ours. They'll set aside a parking area for us. They give us a 20% discount on all our purchases. They also provide dry goods or nonperishable items for a family meal. The program then will supplement perishable goods to make a whole holiday meal that will go home with each of the children at the end of the program. We have a lot of volunteers usually lined up for wrapping, and helping at Fred Myer. The officers, some of the limitation is there's law officers that are working that day and aren't able to help. We have folks from Juneau Police, Alaska State Troopers, from TSA, that help out from the jail, the Department of Corrections. Corrections Officers help out. We also have the pretrial Department of Corrections folks help out as well."

    Stage-Harvey shared the importance of Shop with a Cop for children who could greatly benefit from the value of a positive experience with law enforcement and Christmas time.

    "Shop with a Cop is a program to try and provide a positive experience with law enforcement to kids who may be experiencing rough times in their lives. Or gone through trauma or had negative police interactions because of family stuff or otherwise. Kids who are struggling in school, kids who are dealing with their own personal issues. Kids who are getting bullied. The whole point is to pair an officer with a child and to offer them a couple of hours experience doing some Christmas shopping for their families. They each get a present for their families that the officer and their helper help them pick it out. It's a really positive event for both the kid's perspective and the officer's, and the helpers, we call them Elves, perspective."

    Stage-Harvey explained how the program is sponsored and funded.

    "This program is sponsored by the Capital City Chapter of the Alaska Peace Officers Association. So that's an inner agency organization. It's fraternal and it's philanthropic and so we do some charity work and this is one of those big events that we do during the year. It's been going on for at least a decade here, if not more. Funded through 100% donations. Pretty big funders that typically come through every year, and the inmate store from Lemon Creek Correctional Center donates a large amount. There are a lot of individual donors that donate large amounts. The mines have helped us in the past. Typically our budget is about $10,000 to provide this program. Each officer has a budget for the child and for the child's family of about $100."

    He added how someone can donate.

    "We have Facebook presence so they can search for Shop with a Cop on Facebook, and they can message that page. Or they could send donations, I receive donations here at the Juneau Police Department. So if they either drop off a check here, they can address it towards the Capital City Chapter of APOA. Drop it off at JPD or give me a call, or send a message through the Facebook page."

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