The Target store at 3320 S. 23rd St. in Tacoma opened its doors early on Saturday, Dec. 7 for underprivileged children and their Tacoma Police Officer escorts to shop for the children and their families.
This is the 29th year of the “Shop with a Cop” program, made possible by donations from the officers and the public, and the officers and staff that volunteer their time to make this event a success. This year, 105 children and their families, and 105 officers, in the greater Tacoma area participated.
Det. Elizabeth Schieferdecker is president of the “Shop with a Cop” board, now in her 25th year. “In 2010 we were barely at 50 officers; now we’re at 105-110 a year. Most of the officers come back year after year. They even plan their family vacations around it because they wouldn’t miss it,” she said, noting that three of the children were those whom officers knew from their work in the community. The “Shop with a Cop” program receives numerous applications from schools in the Tacoma School District, as well as children nominated by the police department’s own officers. After a careful screening process, the children are selected and paired with officers who then help them shop.
The event makes Christmas special for all involved. “It does for everyone – the officers and kids,” Schieferdecker said.
Once gifts were chosen, volunteers wrapped them up beautifully so that the gifts could go home with the youth and be put under the tree for all their family members on Christmas Day.
Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli and husband David Bastian were there for the third year to help wrap gifts. “We do a small part but we get so much out of it to bless the lives of those kids,” she said. “It’s a small thing that really contributes to something that has such potential for greatness to impact these people’s lives.”
She said that she is especially proud of the police officers for the acts of selflessness to make “Shop with a Cop” happen.
“I don’t think a lot of people recognize that these are payroll deductions and out of the pockets of officers who fund it. Some of the officers I talked to said that (“Shop with a Cop”) is the best part of their job. It’s these kinds of behind the scenes acts that knit our community together and I’m grateful to be part of it.”
Over the years, the “Shop with Cop” program has helped more than 1,800 of Tacoma’s children. Every year, the children collectively spend more than $20,000 during the shopping spree. Volunteers also spend countless hours to organize the event. Ninety-nine percent of the donations collected go directly to the children served.