Juneau Police Department Chief Ed Mercer helps a child pick out Christmas presents for their families during the annual Shop with a Cop event, sponsored by the Alaska Peace Officer Association, at Fred Meyer on Dec. 21, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Glenn Ojard)

Juneau Police Department Chief Ed Mercer helps a child pick out Christmas presents for their families during the annual Shop with a Cop event, sponsored by the Alaska Peace Officer Association, at Fred Meyer on Dec. 21, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Glenn Ojard)

Police program takes kids shopping for holidays

The event, held at Fred Meyer, helped to spread some holiday cheer

The Juneau Police Department held its annual Shop with a Cop event with the Alaska Peace Officers Association, taking more than 30 children shopping for their families.

“It went pretty darn well,” said Erann Kalwara, public safety manager with the JPD, during a phone interview. “We went shopping with a lot of kids.”

A group of 35 mixed-service officers paired off with 35 children to help them shop for gifts for their families on Saturday. The shopping was supported by donations to the APOA, which went toward gifts for the children, their families and food donations for the Christmas meal.

“The person who organizes it has been doing it for a while and they’ve got it down to art,” Kalwara said.

JPD has been taking part in the benefit for at least nine years, Kalwara said, and Dee Enoch has been organizing the event for the APOA since 2014.

Uniformed officers were drawn from the Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, JPD, the TSA, NOAA, and the Alaska Department of Corrections. Officers accompanied children as they went to Fred Meyer in a vehicle convoy from the police station. Once at Fred Meyer, children and their partner officer would go through the store, shopping for gifts for their families. Strategies for this process varied widely, Kalwara said.

Erann Kalwara, public safety manager with the Juneau Police Department, helps a child pick out Christmas presents for their families during the annual Shop with a Cop event, sponsored by the Alaska Peace Officer Association, at Fred Meyer on Dec. 21, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Juneau Police Department)

Erann Kalwara, public safety manager with the Juneau Police Department, helps a child pick out Christmas presents for their families during the annual Shop with a Cop event, sponsored by the Alaska Peace Officer Association, at Fred Meyer on Dec. 21, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Juneau Police Department)

“Some kids bring a list,” Kalwara said. “Some kids kind of wing it.”

Once they returned to the station, the children went home while dozens of volunteers rapidly wrapped and sorted all the gifts for the children and their families in about four hours, Kalwara said. Once the presents were sorted, officers delivered the gifts to the children at their homes.

“My experience with it is always delightful. I received a text from one of the mothers this year. They don’t have the money for a tree or gifts,” Kalwara said. “She said that Shop with a Cop was a blessing and meant the world to her son and her. She was in tears when she received the call that their family was chosen.”

Local residents and business contributed financially to the APOA, making Shop with a Cop possible, Kalwara. Local businesses, including Fred Mayer, Bullwinkle’s Pizza and the Zach Gordon Youth Center also donated to the organization to help the event. All of the gift wrapping supplies were donated.


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


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