The Valdosta Daily Times
Any law enforcement officer can tell stories about their job, about what they witness every day, about the people they encounter, and rarely are they good stories. Nearly all they encounter day-to-day on the job is bad, criminal and often heartbreaking. Rarely do they get to spend time with those who are law-abiding citizens, whose first instinct is not to run or shirk away from an officer, who trust in law enforcement and consider them the good guys.
So every year, when it’s time at the Valdosta Police Department to volunteer for the Shop With a Cop event, officers are more than willing to give up their time. The annual event pairs officers with children and their families who are given the opportunity to shop for toys and other items they need for Christmas. Each year, around 25 children get to participate, and each year, it’s a different group.
While it’s not difficult for the VPD to identify those in need whose finances and circumstances would otherwise prevent them from being able to provide a happy Christmas for their child, it’s far more difficult to find the donors willing to help provide the gift cards used during the shopping event.
Each child is given a card valued at $198.98 to shop with for the evening. The funds are raised by the officers and are given by individuals and local charitable organizations. The number of children they can assist depends entirely on the amount of money raised for the annual event.
The event is valuable not only for the children and families who are helped, but also for the bond it creates between the officers and members of the community. The officers get to be the hero for the night. They get to see a child’s smile of happiness, not sorrow. And maybe as that child grows up, they will remember that connection and the help they were given and want to return the favor in some way in the community.
Shop With a Cop needs the community’s support in order to make the event happen for a ninth year. If you are interested in donating, contact the Valdosta Police Department and ask for Officer Vernotis Williams.