Kids in need ‘Shop with a Cop’ for Christmas presents

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 15, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — After picking out Nerf guns, skateboards and Barbies on Saturday, kids will have something under the Christmas tree for themselves and family members.

Shop with a Cop, in its fifth year, gives $200 Walmart gift cards to youth who may not be able to afford presents. Thirty-three kids ages 11-14 shopped at Walmart with a police officer, picking out various presents.

Levi Fick, 11, jumped into a cart as Rowan County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Dixon pushed him around the store. Soon, the cart had a bundle of presents in it, including video games and a scooter with a helmet.

Kapri West, 13, got help from Salisbury Police Officer Alexandria Petty. West picked out items for her grandmother and brother. She was soon on a mission to find a Harry Potter item for her mother.

De’Smond Hines, 13, picked up some items for his family, including something for his dad and toys for his younger siblings. Detention Officer William Ray escorted him.

Hines said shopping with a cop was fun, especially the ride in the police car with the sirens on to Walmart.

Ray said he has participated in Shop with a Cop every year. On Saturday, he ended up pulling out his card to cover the difference in costs after Hines went above the $200 given. Ray said he can’t tell the kids “no.”

The organizer of the event, Rowan County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Walker, said he saw generosity in the kids. Many bought more items for siblings and parents than themselves, he said. Officers had to make one boy buy something for himself with the leftover $20-25.

Shop with a Cop helps bridge together cops and kids in the community, Walker said.

“A lot of times a lot of the kids don’t get to see us do good things like this. They see us in a job role where we are arresting people or arresting their parents,” Walker said. “It’s good for them to see that side of us as well.”

Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten agreed.

“More important than the shopping is the bridge. A lot of these kids grow up in homes that have seen law enforcement in a different light, and the kids need to know we’re just really people too,” Auten said.

Lori Blackshear, Walmart’s manager, was happy to provide a way to facilitate the partnership.

“We’re super proud when we get this opportunity to just go above and beyond and support the children and support all of our community and law enforcement as well because they do so much for us,” Blackshear said.

Some customers felt compelled to donate to Shop with a Cop on the spot. One gave $500. Another commented how great it was to see it in person after seeing it on social media for years.

“What was great too was customers watching this happen got so inspired that customers were coming up and giving donations as well,” Blackshear said. 

The Walmart Foundation gave a $2,500 donation and Foundation for the Carolinas gave a $3,500 donation. The law enforcement officers also raised money through raffles and hot dog sales.

Walmart provided breakfast and lunch. They also had a wrapping station at the store.