Holiday generosity: Craig kids cash in, share the wealth during Shop with a Cop
For some children, having $100 burning a hole in their pocket might inspire a shopping spree focused solely on themselves as they ransack store aisles for the most sought-after toys and the latest technology. But, even while they were checking items off their own Christmas lists Saturday morning, Craig kids also took the time to think of their loved ones.
Craig’s Shop with a Cop saw 11 local youths fill up Walmart shopping carts to the brim with some help from Craig Police Department, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol.
Craig resident Beth Loken helped Moffat County Sheriff’s Office start Shop with a Cop in 2016, and it has been a celebrated tradition since for local law enforcement to aid in making Christmas merrier for kids.
“It’s a very special part of our community during a special time of year,” Sheriff KC Hume said. “We certainly appreciate the partnerships that have allowed us to identify kiddos and families that could certainly benefit from something like this.”
Thinking of others
“He’s pretty much made it all about everyone else. That’s just the kind of kid he is.”
— Stefene Sisson, on grandson Shooter Custer
Aided by Police Capt. Bill Leonard and Investigator Norm Rimmer, 6-year-old Shooter Custer had plenty of choices along Walmart’s back wall of board games. Even with a C-note worth of funds to work with from the program, it was a little tough to narrow down which struck his fancy.
Rimmer was likewise flummoxed by the amount of options.
“I think I had ‘Operation,’ ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Connect Four,’ that was about it, and then ‘Risk’ and ‘Monopoly.’ I was always jealous of the kids with the electronic ‘Battleship.’ We had to make our own,” he laughed.
Rimmer previously worked as a school resource officer in Moffat County School District, and being able to put a smile on kids’ faces is one of his favorite parts of the year.
“This is probably one of the best things we do with the community,” he said.
Shooter was accompanied by his grandmother, Stefene Sisson, who held onto the cart as he and his personal shoppers made their selections.
Stefene noted the experience was a great one for her grandson.
“He wants to be a cop when he grows up,” she said.
A toy dinosaur made its way into Shooter’s cart by the end of the trip, as did several other items that would be for additional recipients, including his parents and siblings.
“He’s pretty much made it all about everyone else. That’s just the kind of kid he is,” Stefene said.
Makaylee Hogan, 10, strode around the displays of clothing to pick out some new additions to her wardrobe, while also debating what would be the best present to get for her 2-year-old brother.
Though she was considering a toy truck of some kind, she also thought he might like Matchbox Cars, even if the smaller pieces might not be suited for a toddler.
“He doesn’t act like he’s 2, he acts more like a 5-year-old,” she said.
Cedar Higley budgeted smartly along with Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Hampton, picking up a tablet as well as a copy of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in the electronics section, later thumbing through a retrospective of Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee at the checkout line.
But, he also grabbed some smaller things around the store, including a Nerf gun and a plush animal that he squeezed with the might of Thor to prove its durability.
“This thing is indestructible. I love it!” Cedar said.
Among his purchases was a surprise for his mother, the only hint for which he gave was, “it’s fluffy.”
He said he didn’t feel he needed a reason to get a gift for her beyond the obvious.
“Well, she’s my mom,” he said.
“So much of the time, we’re seen as the bad guys, and this gives us an opportunity to be seen as the good guys.”
— Craig Police Department Capt. Bill Leonard
Taden Jones, 7, led police officers Will Roland and Junior Gonzales all throughout Walmart before they finally came to the cash register.
His mother, Brittany, did her best to keep up with them.
“It’s such a cool thing that they do, and it’s such a good way to get kids to interact with law enforcement,” she said.
Leonard did double duty with more than one kid in the shopping excursion, also helping 8-year-old Tim Adams fill up his cart.
“We got quite a cartful here,” Leonard said. “I don’t have any kids this age anymore, so it gives me a chance to have fun and buy toys again.”
Leonard has participated in Shop with a Cop in recent years and other Christmastime police donations for many years before that.
It’s a project he enjoys both because of the holiday cheer and because it’s a positive interaction between children and the men and women who work to keep them safe.
“So much of the time, we’re seen as the bad guys, and this gives us an opportunity to be seen as the good guys,” he said.
Besides the $100 apiece allotted to them, kids also got an additional $25 gift card from Walmart, while associates also chipped in with cards for McDonald’s.
Employees also provided free gift-wrapping for those who wanted to have them ready for presentation on Christmas morning while families enjoyed donuts and cookies.
Store manager Traci Salvucci noted her heart was full seeing kids not only pick out presents of their own but also exercise generosity for their family members.
“One little girl, every single item she has purchased has been for someone else,” she said. “We gave her an extra gift card, and she wrapped it up for her mom. We gave her a McDonald’s gift card, she wrapped it up for her sister. It’s just such a pleasure to have that experience with these kids.”
A blend of Northwest Colorado imagery and splashy colors now greets Craig drivers and pedestrians.