Shop With a Cop connects Basalt police officers with seven kids’ families | AspenTimes.com

Shop With a Cop connects Basalt police officers with seven kids’ families

The Basalt Police Department made the day for seven kids and their families for the holidays.

The police officers hosted the kids in the department's inaugural Shop With a Cop outing at Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs on Wednesday evening. The program was designed to build bonds between youth and police officers.

Six Basalt police officers and the office administrator took the kids on the shopping spree. All the kids were from families that the Basalt school district identified as needing assistance for the holidays.

Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said one aspect of the outing was particularly eye-opening for him.

"I assumed the kids would go for the toys," Knott said. "They all went straight to clothes. A couple of families went for food."

That proved to him the degree to which the families could use the help. He said it also was heartwarming that some of the kids used the opportunity to get gifts they could give to other members of their families. They were thinking beyond themselves, he said.

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Holy Cross Energy got the local version of the program started by donating $500 to help five kids. Word of mouth led to some additional donations. An anonymous donor chipped in another $500, then two other donors contributed $40. Discount Tire kept it rolling with a $200 donation that boosted the total to $1,240.

The police officers met with the families of seven selected kids ranging from a 2-year-old baby and a 6 year old to five youngsters between ages 12 and 16.

Wal-Mart provided sales clerks to help with the shopping and provided a special area where the officers could help wrap gifts selected by the kids. The store also donated pre-lit Christmas trees for families that didn't already have a tree.

The officers were in uniform while they were shopping with the families, so it caught the eye of other customers in the store.

"People were smiling," Knott said.

The participating officers were Knott, Jason Hegberg, Ernie Mack, Joe Gasper, Jordan Hilkey and Thomas Wright along with administrator Dina Prieto. Sgt. Aaron Munch covered the town while his colleagues played Santa.

Knott said he hopes to continue the program next year with a goal of taking 10 kids shopping.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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