SHOP WITH A COP
About two dozen youngsters came to the Target in Owatonna last week to shop for Christmas gifts for siblings and parents as well as get something for themselves.
It was all part of the annual Shop with a Cop program.
Members of law enforcement from the Steele County Sheriff’s Office, Blooming Prairie Police Department and Owatonna Police Department were on hand to accompany the youngsters as they went through the store looking for gifts.
Steele County law enforcement has been doing Shop with a Cop for about eight years, said Sheriff Lon Thiele.
The parents and the youngsters arrived at the Target shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday. After the parents filled out some final paperwork, half of the youngsters were paired with an officer to begin their shopping excursion. While the first group went shopping the second group was treated to a sandwich supper courtesy of the Owatonna Jimmy John’s.
When the first group finished shopping they were directed to two check-out lines where the total of their purchases were added up. The first group then went back to the starting point where they enjoyed their food while the second group of youngsters was paired up with officers and headed out to shop.
The event was a cooperative effort between Steele County law enforcement agencies and the Salvation Army along with Target and Jimmy John’s.
Tom Kuelbs, regional manager for the Salvation Army, said the money for the shopping trip came from Salvation Army kettle donations as well as a grant from the Target Corp. Jimmy John’s donated the food for the event, he said.
Each child was allowed to spend $50 on clothing for themselves as well as $75 for toys and gifts for siblings and parents.
The officers had information with them about the child they were with and their siblings so they could help the children in making their purchases.
The event helps the youngsters be able to buy presents for their family, get some new clothing for themselves and also it helps reacquaint them with police officers in a friendly environment, said Kuelbs.