A typical day for a police officer may include traffic stops, arrests and responding to accidents, but on Dec. 8 Plymouth Police Officer Jon Goldenman found himself pushing a cart full of pink Barbie accessories through Target.
Goldenman, along with about 10 other Plymouth police officers, participated in the department's first 'Shop With a Cop' event at Target, 4175 Vinewood Lane N. in Plymouth.
The officers, who were off-duty volunteers, were paired up with an elementary-aged kid. With a $100 gift card, they helped the kids pick presents for their friends, family or themselves.
Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein said when the department asked for volunteers more than they needed signed up.
"I'm really proud of that, I'm not surprised but I'm very proud and very thankful that they're willing to do this," he said.
Ten kids, whose families are going through difficult times, were selected to participate. Five were chosen through Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners and the other five were selected from People Responding to Social Faith Ministry.
Each kid was able to get a $100 gift card thanks to a $1,000 donation from the Plymouth Rotary club.
After the kids picked their $100 worth of goodies, Target volunteers wrapped the presents.
Target Asset Protection Manager Melissa Frankman-Burleigh said the store has a good relationship with the police department and were happy to host the shopping experience.
"I think it's amazing and super awesome, I'm really glad to be a part of it. It's so important for kids at a young age to be able to have positive interactions with law enforcement," Frankman-Burleigh, whose husband is a sheriff's deputy in Hennepin County, said. "This is what Christmas is all about."
Eight-year-old Nakila, whose last name was requested to be withheld, said at first she was scared to go shopping with a cop but felt more comfortable during the experience with officer Goldenman.
Nakila shopped for presents for her cousin, friend and herself, finding Barbie accessories and Nerf guns.
Kyril got to bring his older brother Dennis to help shop and both officers Nate Hultgren and Jeff Swiatkiewicz helped Kyril look for presents for his other siblings.
"I think it's a good way to get to know some of the kids in the community and reward them," Swiatkiewicz said.
Community Relations Officer Jim Long put the event together. He said he picked Target because it was a big box store that had a lot of options and toys for the kids.
Long said he enjoyed planning this event because it breaks down barriers between kids and police officers.
"It's more than just a person in a uniform, it's a nice guy that's just like mom and just like dad," he said. "Hopefully this stays with them, this memory stays with them."
If the funds are available next year, the police department hopes to make this an annual event.
Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012
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