KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dozens of children poured out of the employees-only area at the Boardwalk Avenue Wal-Mart location on Saturday, Dec. 5 with men and women in freshly pressed uniforms with glistening badges in tow. The annual Shop with a Cop event allowed kids to put a few gifts under the tree, when other family circumstances might have left the under-tree real estate barren. Platte City police chief Carl Mitchell brought the program to Platte City when he arrived as police chief six years ago.
Multiple agencies helped fill the ranks, providing an officer to accompany each of the kids.
“The biggest reason we started it was it started out our community policing here,” Mitchell said. “It got the police involved in the community. It got the community involved with the police. We worked together and we just kept building on.”
The Platte City Police Department had 27 names on its list of kids who needed some extra help. This led to the department asking for some additional manpower to give each kid a special shopping experience. Police officer’s wives helped fill the gap as well as troopers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and agents from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Re/Max House of Dreams owner Patty Farr even made Christmas special for a little girl.
“I have tons of grandkids so I know what little kids like,” Farr said. “I love doing the shopping. I love picking out things and letting her pick out what she wants. I just hope when she wakes up, she has all of these presents, and she’ll have a great time opening them.”
Those experiences keep Sgt. Mike Mand, a, eight-year veteran of the Platte City Police Department, motivated to do all of the fundraising throughout the year. All of the extra work leads to $250 for each kid to spend with a few minor restrictions.
Some of the money must be spent on clothing and shoes in addition to the presents, which can’t include weapons or toy weapons.
“It’s one of the best programs we do,” Mand said. “It gives us the opportunity to give back to the community and help families out. It’s a blast to go through here with children. Whatever lights up their eyes, let’s grab it. It’s really good.”
Platte County School District counselors and administrators help provide the list of kids to participate in the program, asked to take notice of kids who might need a little extra help, especially around the holidays.
The Platte County Sheriff’s office has a similar program that Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen helped institute in 1990. The Shop with a Deputy program helped 26 kids this year and took place at the same time as the Platte City event.