Shop with Cops takes the giving curbside

Drew Butler
dbutler@gannett.com
Executive Director of Heroes with Hope Melissa Woolly is joined by Adeleine Dunn, Santa Claus, Cpl. Jared Johnson and K-9 Riggs prior to the first-of-its-kind curbside Shop with Cops event Friday evening. Families were given times to come pick up their presents, and the children would wait outside while the officers went in to gather their gifts.
Children pick up their gifts from Ardmore police officers Friday evening at Shop with Cops. Typically the children go to the store with police to select their gifts, but this year police bought items off of wish lists.

Christmas came a few weeks early for dozens of children in need when they picked up their presents from Shop with Cops. In years past, police officers took the children shopping so they could select their own presents. This year, in light of the pandemic, organizers decided to send the officers out solo to purchase items off of wish lists. The children came on Friday to pick up their gifts.

Melissa Woolly, executive director of Heroes with Hope, said though she is extremely pleased they did not have to cancel the event, everyone involved missed the experience of shopping with the children.

“These last few nights when we went shopping, we were all talking about how much we really miss the kids,” Woolly said. “Normally it’s kind of a family event with the officers and their wives and children, and it just wasn’t the same without the kids. We really missed the relationships that interaction builds.”

To make the evening run more smoothly Woolly called the children’s families to set up a time for them to come by and pick up their presents at American Nation Bank’s Presidential Hall. All the gifts were lined up inside based on when each child was scheduled to arrive, and the kids waited outside while police officers went in to pick up their presents.

When contacting some families, she learned of other children living in the home who were not on the Shop with Cops list. To make sure no child was left out, she asked for their wish lists, and officers went shopping Friday afternoon to get them presents.

Woolly was unable to reach one of the families receiving gifts, so a representative from the partner agency that made the nomination went to the house to tell them when to come pick up their presents.

“She said when she went and talked to the mom, she turned around and told her kids ‘we’re really going to have a Christmas this year,’” Woolly said. “That’s heartwarming in itself. It tells me that we’re still doing something good, and it reassured me that all of the changes we’ve had to make and all of the stress of figuring out a new way to do things has been worth it.”