A crowd of children, police officers, and helpful adults poured into Walmart for the third and final time this December Friday night.
Shop with Cops, an annual charity drive where Ardmore Police Department officers take local children in need Christmas shopping, was able to include 150 kids thanks to Dot Foods, who joined their effort after last year’s event. Heroes With Hope Director Melissa Woolly said last year the organization held a two-night event and took about 100 children shopping.
“Tonight, we’re doing it a little differently,” Woolly said. “We had a local company that had a fundraiser and they wanted to participate, so they’ve sponsored some of the kids and they were our shopping partners.”
Each child can buy up to $100 worth of toys, clothes, or whatever else they’d like, while their designated adult pushes the cart and helps them make decisions. Justin Haynes, an assistant transportation manager at Dot Foods, went shopping alone, as the child he was shopping for is an infant.
“I got called out because I didn’t have an actual kid with me,” Haynes said. “It’s a great event. It’s awesome to see the kids smile, and as people pass by, they realize something special is going on.”
Cody Saathoff, whose wife works at Dot Foods, pushed a cart as a young girl in a sequined dress showed off her Trolls toothbrush, Frozen doll and LOL Surprise playset.
“I really enjoyed the cheer that came with it,” Saathoff said. “Just seeing their joy as they walked into the store knowing that they could have anything. It brought back so many memories.”
Teens had different priorities. One 17 year old had more practical things in mind, picking up a thick jacket, shirts, jeans and a wallet while his 13-year-old sister picked out clothes, shoes, a toothbrush and a curler.
“I’ve always been about clothes,” she said.
Landon Gary, a detective with the Ardmore Police Department, said this year marked his first chance to participate in Shop With Cops. He said the three siblings he took shopping went for toys that were familiar, like remote control cars, skateboards, Spiderman, Nerf guns, Operation and Barbie as well as clothes and arts and crafts kits.
“You know, I’ve worked evenings for the last four years,” Gary said. “They knew pretty much where they were going. It was a lot of fun.”