AVON — Christmas provides local police officers with an opportunity each year that they relish: stepping away from their normal routine to help make families’ holidays a little brighter.
This past weekend, a Fraternal Order of Police tradition was continued when the Shop with a Cop event was held at the Meijer store in Avon.
Families in need of assistance during the holiday season sign up for the event, which allows them to receive $100 worth of Christmas gifts for each of their children. Police officers volunteer their time to help the families pick out gifts.
Organizers say the event grows each year, but the tough economic times the country is experiencing right now made this year’s event even more important. More than 230 children were helped out during this year’s event.
“I think it’s neat to go out and interact with (the families) because a lot of people see us in a different light when we get called out for a burglary, theft, or domestic, and I like being in a relaxed setting to get t know them, talk to the kids, and let them know that if they ever need help to look for someone dressed like me,” said Christi Patterson, chief of the Pittsboro Police Department.
Patterson has been a part of the event on and off for years and participated in the very first one held in Hendricks County. She’s been a police officer for 23 years, and has seen Shop with a Cop grow from about 100 children to what it is now.
She said being able to interact in a unique way with the children is the highlight for all of the officers.
“I have a blast,” Patterson said. “It’s just so much fun. They’re shy at first, but then they warm up to us. They want to show you the toys they picked.”