Santa has his elves but several local youths will get some help from area police officers on choosing the perfect holiday gifts this season.
Five officers each from the Gaithersburg and Montgomery County police departments will be participating in Shop with a Cop, set for the evening of Dec. 8. Referred by the Gaithersburg Holiday Giving Program, 10 children of various ages will be partnered with an officer and given a donated Lakeforest Mall gift card to spend on gifts for themselves or family members.
“It’s a good program to do,” said Gaithersburg Police Department Officer Dan Lane. “It builds our relationship between our youth and the law enforcement community. … Anything we can do to help make their holidays a little brighter, we want to help out.”
The officers help kids find items within their gift card range and help them to discover the best deals, Lane said. “The card is for (the kids) to go purchase things for themselves that they would like but most of the kids (last year) purchased for the family and for them. … Everybody who came back had a smile on their face. I didn’t have complaints from anybody.
“The officers, if they happened to see that the kids were a little bit over their gift card, some of the officers put in their own money to help the kid.”
This is the second year for the event—a partnership between the departments and the mall. Dinner will be provided to the kids, parents and officers at Red Robin.
While they eat, members of the Montgomery County Explorers Post 1986 will wrap the presents they selected. The Explorers, youth between the ages of 14 to 20 with an interest in law enforcement, chose to participate because “their main mission is community partnerships,” Lane said. “It’s their way of giving back to the community.”
The Gaithersburg Police Foundation has also arranged for Santa to be at the restaurant for pictures with the participants.
The event is popular among officers. Lane said many are looking forward to participating again this year.