Officers and volunteers join forces for children

Annual event likely tops $35,000 total donations

Rockford’s Department of Public Safety, along with spouses or helpers, spent a chilly Sunday morning prowling the newly renovated Rockford Meijer store helping youngsters check off items on their wish list: warm boots, coats, mittens, and other necessities before ending the shopping spree with a few fun toy items.

The fourteenth annual Rockford Shop With A Cop was Sunday, December 3 at the Rockford Meijer store. Chief Dave Jones noted that everyone present was there as a volunteer. In addition to members of the Department of Public Safety, the store aisles were also filled with volunteers from the Rockford Lions club and their high school equivalent, the Leos.

Children chosen for the event had a list of wish list items and the officers help them fill their carts, trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to keep to the $100 limit.  Jones said his officers more often than not go over budget. “We are good at law enforcement. We aren’t good at keeping track when we are shopping.”

This is the fourteenth year for the event, and likely has passed $35,000 in the dollars donated for the effort provided by local service organizations and the Meijer store. Jones said the consolidation of the fire and police department allowed even more officers to participate and more kids to enjoy the event.

At the end of the day, when kids and officers wait in the back break area of the store enjoying treats, coloring and taking pictures with Santa, store director Phil Morrow thanked everyone for chosing Meijer to partner for the Shop event.

He handed out gift cards to each child instructing them to use the money to do something nice for someone else in their lives. Chief Jones said he has seen the program evolve over the years. “When we first started doing this, the officers were a bunch of young single guys who didn’t have a clue, now they are all experts.” He also praised the people of Rockford for being so supportive of these types of events. “This says everything about our community.”