Platte County sheriff Mark Owen teared up as he briefed his deputies before their latest operation at the Wal-Mart on North Boardwalk Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. He helped start the department’s Shop with a Deputy program 20 years ago after receiving grant funding from the state, and he continued to feel the emotions of the program’s effect while preparing for the 20th annual event on Saturday, Dec. 6.
In 1994, the first $500 helped 10 kids experience a Christmas they might not have had otherwise. The program has significantly grown and expanded to include other law enforcement agencies in the county.
“This has become a complete department event now,” Owen said. “We post it on the wall. They sign up and volunteer their time. They are on their time. We look forward to it.”
Platte County Sheriff’s Office staff from each of the department’s five divisions were on hand to shop with more than 30 children this past weekend. Each child received $150 to help purchase clothes, winter coats and other necessities to go along with $75 for other items with a few minor restrictions.
Owen said more than 400 children have participated in the program with the sheriff’s office.
Now a tax-exempt charity is in place to keep the program sustained for future children’s needs. The Platte County Children’s Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, allows private citizens to donate to the cause.
“We’ve done this for 20 years,” Owen said. “We want to be sure we can continue this legacy down the road. This allows us to do that. It allows the community to help support the children in the community and it gives them a tax deduction as they do it. It helps show the legitimacy of where the money is going that it is in good hands and under good stewardship.”
The Platte City Police Department held its Shop with a Cop event along with the sheriff’s office on the same day in the same location.
The Riverside Department of Public Safety held its Shop with a Officer/Firefighter event on Sunday, Dec. 7, also at the Boardwalk Wal-Mart. There were 26 school-age children from Riverside signed up this year. This marked the eighth year for Riverside’s program, which raises funds throughout the year from the Riverside Fire/Police Athletic League and donations from local businesses.
Wal-Mart donates wrapping supplies and snacks, and each participating family also receives a Christmas dinner food box compliments of FPAL and Hy-Vee. The boxes contain materials to make a meal for four, including a 10-pound turkey, potatoes, green beans, a pie and more.
The Parkville Police Department will help 18 kids during its Shop with a Cop event on Sunday, Dec. 14. The shopping will again take place at the Boardwalk Wal-Mart.