Routt County Shop with a Cop event makes holidays merrier for 24 kids | CraigDailyPress.com

Routt County Shop with a Cop event makes holidays merrier for 24 kids

Eleanor C. Hasenbeck/Steamboat Pilot & Today
Alijah Wallace, age 2, carries a toy truck set as he shops with Steamboat Springs Police Department officers Greg Griffin, left, and Chris Holloway.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck/Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Nevaeh Gilbreath grabbed the first thing that caught her eye the moment she hit the toy aisle. She had part of a dollhouse in her shopping cart before she’d even considered which doll would live in it.

At age 4, she needed a boost from her grandfather to see the dolls on the fourth shelf. She didn’t take long to choose a long-haired doll in a floral dress — one that was about half as tall as Nevaeh was.

Soon, into the cart went the new doll, a bed for it and several costume changes, including Nevaeh’s favorite: a pink figure skating costume.

Nevaeh and her little brother, Aayden Gilbreath, age 2, were two of the 24 kids who participated in this year’s Shop with a Cop event.

“It just means everything to know that the community helps children, helps raise children and be there for them,” said Shannon Davis, Naveah and Aayden’s grandmother.

Each child was paired with a law enforcement officer and given a $200 Walmart gift card, which they could use to purchase items for themselves or others.

After loading her cart to the top with supplies for her new doll, Naveah found a gift for her cousin, who just had a birthday. Then, Aayden kicked off his shopping spree with a ball, a toy train and a stuffed dog.

Her grandfather, Bill Davis, said he thought shopping with Routt County Animal Control Officer Dawn Smith helped Naveah feel more comfortable around law enforcement. After a previous experience with officers, Naveah was a bit scared when she entered the store and saw so many cops.

“I don’t want her to be afraid of law (enforcement),” he said.

Nevaeh Gilbreath chooses a kitchen for a doll with Routt County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Officer Dawn Smith.

That’s one of the goals of the event, said Routt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ryan Adrian, who helped organize the event. Adrian wants to help “bridge the gap” between law enforcement and the community.

“We want people to know that we’re out there for more than just responding to calls,” he said.

The event is also intended to help care for the community, particularly for those who have financial stress that makes it difficult to have a merry Christmas.

“We want to help out and make sure we spread that joy and cheer and love this holiday season,” Adrian said.

A $1,500 donation from a private donor and a $4,000 donation from the Steamboat Springs Walmart made the event possible. Last year, the event received $3,500 in donations and served 20 kids.

As people saw officers hauling around toy trucks and helping kids pick the right color of knickknack, some contributed cash donations on the spot.

LiftUp of Routt County helped connect Adrian to families who participated in the event. The kids came from all across Routt County, from Hayden to Steamboat to Oak Creek and beyond.

Officers from the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, Steamboat Springs Police Department, Oak Creek Police Department and Colorado Parks and Wildlife shopped with the children.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.