Our Police Department has participated in an event called “Shop with a Cop” for many years where members of the department along with community volunteers take kids shopping to buy holiday presents for their families. The kids are from families who are facing challenges selected from the caseload of Pontiac Youth Assistance.
Us cops – we get a lot of credit for this event. We are the most visible in our pressed uniforms with our shiny badges. The truth is, our part was easy. Just volunteering a little of our time. The real credit for the success of this type of event should go elsewhere. Like RGIS, a business on Taylor Road in our city who without hesitation gave me a very large check to help fund this event. Also, the Auburn Hills Target Team – Tanner, Julie, John, who made the planning so easy, organized snacks for the kids, and helped us wrap all the newly bought presents. Target Corporation funded the remaining portion of the event and is always willing to give back to the community. The members and volunteers of Pontiac Youth Assistance (Anna, Melvin, Brent, Eugene, Thomas, Veronica, Toni… too many to list!) who organized basically everything else – this would not have happened without them.
There are a lot of these types of events out there, some big, some small. But ours, is a little different. It only works because of the many community partnerships we have developed over the years. It’s a smaller event, with usually only about 15-20 youths, but that makes it unique, personal, and impactful. We do it for the kid’s happiness.
This year, the event was a great success. We had 15 youths, a great team of support volunteers from Pontiac Youth Assistance, several officers and even Chief Olko who hasn’t missed the event for years. We also had a very supportive team from our Brown Road Target Store. We were able to raise enough money that each youth had $200.00 to spend on their loved ones.
When you watch some of the things these kids choose to purchase, it really puts things in perspective. Dish Soap. I saw dish soap in one cart. It made me realize how lucky I am, and how much work we still have to do.
Normally, we restrict the purchases to be for family members of the kids only. This year, due to the generosity of our donors, we were able to surprise the kids and allow them to buy a nice gift for themselves. It was very exciting for many of them to have the chance to pick out anything they wanted. By watching them do it, I am guessing they don’t get that chance often.
I am excited that Chief Olko has passed-the-torch, so to say, of this event to me now. She has developed it into something great over the years, and I intend to continue that legacy.