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Sign up for ‘Shop with a Cop’ program ends Dec. 1

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Sign up for ‘Shop with a Cop’ program ends Dec. 1

The deadline is near for families to sign up for the Shenandoah Police Department’s “Shop with a Cop” program this Christmas.

Low-income families who are eligible for the program started signing up on Nov. 5 and can continue to sign up until Thursday, Dec. 1, in the Shenandoah Police Department lobby at 400 W. Sheridan Ave. Families must have children between the ages of 0 and 17 and live in Shenandoah or Essex to sign up for the program.

While the department would like to help all the families that sign up, Shenandoah Police Chaplain Jack Langley said they are limited according to the number of donations received throughout the year from businesses and individuals in the communities of Shenandoah and Essex. Langley said the department could typically help 15 to 17 families each year, and those families are selected by a random drawing and notified.

On a select date, Langley said those children drawn are paired up with an officer to shop locally for gifts for themselves, and sometimes he said the kids also shop for family members. He said, “the majority of the kids are overwhelmed.”

Langley shared some memories from the “Shop with the Cop” program.

“My favorite story is about a girl that picked up a doll and then set it down,” Langley said. “She picked up three different dolls. She couldn’t make up her mind, and we told her she could have all three. She grabbed all three and hugged on to them and she had them named before we left the store.”

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Langley reflected on another time when a child had never been shopping before and said the child told the officers they didn’t know “how this works.” He said they explained to the child what they could buy, and he said the child said, “I never knew there were this many toys.”

He said some children would use the allotted amount of money to shop for themselves, but most of the time, he said the kids also want to buy presents for parents and siblings.

“They’re happy to give gifts to other people and we’re happy to help them,” Langley said.

The Shenandoah Police Department has been putting smiles on kids’ faces for 40 years now at Christmas time. Langley said the program initially started as “Operation Christmas Blessing,” where the officers shopped for items provided on a list and delivered them to the homes with their lights flashing, signaling their arrival. The program then transitioned into the officers taking the individual children shopping in person locally, with a Christmas party afterward.

Langley said the program is important to the department and officers for many reasons. He said the officers are faced with many circumstances while on duty and this program allows them the opportunity to give back to the families in the community that need help.

“It allows the officers to relate to the community other than an unhappy situation,” Langley said. “It allows the community to see the police in a positive note instead of always in a negative note.”

Langley said the program would not be possible without donations from the community and added donations are accepted year-round at the Shenandoah Police Department. Checks should be mailed to the Shenandoah Police Department, 400 W. Sheridan Ave., Shenandoah, IA 51601, with “Shop with a Cop” in the memo line. If making a cash donation, they request those are made in person. For questions or more information about the “Shop with a Cop” program, call 712 246 3512.

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