‘Shop With a Cop’ convoys of caring belt their sirens throughout Iron, Washington counties

SOUTHERN UTAH — After a warm breakfast of pancakes, sausage and eggs, sheriff’s deputies, troopers and first responders from all over Washington and Iron County escorted 201 kids to Walmart and Target for a Christmas shopping adventure.

Hundreds gather for breakfast at Legacy Park before the annual Shop With a Cop event, Hurricane, Utah, Dec. 14, 2019 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

In Washington County, Hurricane residents woke up early Saturday morning to the sound of sirens as law enforcement officers activated their lights and sirens to take local children to a breakfast and to various stores for their annual “Shop With a Cop” event.

Festivities kicked off with introductions as officers met their assigned children at 7 a.m. at Hurricane High School, then together enjoyed an early breakfast at the fairgrounds at Washington County Legacy Park. The breakfast was courtesy of a group of officers and other volunteers who awoke early to cook for several hundred officers, participants and children.

Providing breakfast for the children and their uniformed partners ensures the pair are fueled up for the shopping excursion, and also provides a little time for them to get to know one another.

Police chiefs, captains and lieutenants, county attorneys and the sheriff served sausage, eggs and pancakes from tables lined along the dining hall, a task many of them have done for years.

Once the massive group left the fairgrounds, it was a “Code 3” convoy with lights and sirens activated all the way to one of three Walmart stores — Hurricane, Washington City and St. George — and to the Target store on River Road in St. George: the second year for the big-box retailer that came on board in 2018.

The Washington County Explorer cadets were on hand at the wrapping stations helping officers gift wrap items, led by retired police officer Carl Johnston, who now works in a civilian capacity with the Explorer Program, and also tracks the families, assigns each child to an officer and takes care of the arrangements for the shopping spree.

The St. George Police Department has been involved in tracking donations provided by numerous businesses, organizations and individuals, which has in turn expanded the reach of the program. Thanks to generous donations from the Kiwanis Club, Desert Rodders of Southern Utah, Walmart and Target, each child was provided a $150 gift card this year, St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley said.

Shop With a Cop in Iron County

The Iron County event took place Dec. 7, where 100 children were selected to participate in the program, and after being paired with a law enforcement officer, fireman, EMS worker or dispatcher, each child was whisked away to have breakfast at Canyon View High School, where members of the Cedar City Elks Lodge had prepared a feast of sausage and eggs.

Police vehicles ride with lights and sirens activated during the annual Shop With a Cop event, Iron County, Utah, Dec. 7, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Lt. Del Schlosser, Cedar City News, St. George News

Then began the miles-long promenade to Walmart, where each child received a $100 gift card upon arrival at the store and were told to pick out whatever they wanted in the entire store – from toys and electronics to clothes and shoes.

In addition to the gift card, each child received a gift certificate from the Lady Elks to purchase a pair of shoes, and Southern Utah University’s athletic program provided support with all of the wrapping and shopping for the children, Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser told St. George News.

Hundreds of officers, agents and children participate in the program that is supported by businesses, community and academic groups throughout Iron County, Schlosser said, as well as every police department and law enforcement agency in the region.

Walmart participates in the program each year, playing an important role in the Shop With a Cop program, in both Iron and Washington Counties.

Each of the stores makes preparations by stocking extra toys and merchandise, designating cash registers and setting up wrapping stations the night before. Extra associates are on hand to help with locating various items, and the company also provides a grant to help with shopping costs, in addition to donating all of the wrapping supplies.

Numerous businesses, individuals, academic groups and organizations throughout Washington and Iron Counties donated to the program this year, many of which have donated every year. In addition to the money provided by these entities, officers, firemen, EMS workers or dispatchers and their families donate their time in support of the annual event.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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