Stephen McKee had never been inside a police officer’s car before Tuesday night.
Lights blaring and sirens squealing, Ardmore Police Officer Nicholas Denewellis escorted the young man inside his vehicle. But it wasn’t for breaking the law.
“I liked it,” Stephen said. “But, I mean, I wouldn’t like sitting in the back seat.”
Stephen didn’t have to worry about sitting in the backseat during the second night of this year’s Shop with Cops event. He and several other children, together with members of local law enforcement, wheeled carts through the aisles of Wal-Mart on Commerce Street to pick out what they wanted for Christmas.
The event, which is now coordinated with the Heroes with Hope of Southern Oklahoma Foundation, allowed Stephen to add to his prized stereo collection. He told Officer Denewellis all about the suite of box speakers underneath his bed and Bose merchandise.
Stephen preferred the speakers over some of the movies he and Officer Denewellis passed in the electronics section, which he said had too much cussing.
“I like stereos. I do a bunch of that: building boxes for speakers,” Stephen said. “I love Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s Jesus’ birthday for me.”
Seeing Stephen’s reaction to the event is what it’s all about for Denewellis. Privileged to experience Shop with Cops for the first time, the event serves as a nice change of pace.
“It’s a new experience,” Denewellis said. “The thing about being a police officer is, most often, you’re called whenever it’s a bad situation. Often, you don’t get to see the good in the community. Helping out with these children that need us and seeing how they glow is great.”
Board Member for Heroes with Hope of Southern Oklahoma Greg Elliott said Shop with Cops is one of many ways the community is able to reach out to local children in  positive ways.
About $30,000 had been raised for Shop with Cops this year before donations, he said. Wal-Mart customers donated a total of $600 to the cause Monday in the event’s first night.
Seeing a tightly knit community like Ardmore come together to help kids in need holds a special place in Elliott’s heart. Shop with Cops, in fact, is only one of several outlets children in need have at their disposal.
“This right here is a big deal, because it really impacts kids’ lives,” Elliott said. “I’m all about anything that has to do with kids.”
To have so many people donate to the Salvation Army bell ringers and the yearlong shelters around the area makes the city a welcoming hub for those who need them.
“It’s unfortunate that we need events like this, but it’s nice we have the people that we have,” Elliott said. “And the Police Department doing this, the sheriff and other law enforcement is awesome.”