By CRA News Service
DELRAY BEACH -Two children from area schools were treated to a Christmas shopping spree recently thanks to the Delray Beach Police Department’s Shop With a Cop program.
The annual program, which helps families who might not otherwise have much a Christmas, pairs local police officers with children to spend $125 each on anything they wanted from the Linton Square Target.
“It was fun,” said Emmanuel Bazile, 13, a student at Village Academy and a member of the Knights of Pythagoras Mentoring Network program. “We got a chance to buy something we like for Christmas and we also get to bond with the officers.”
The Children were allowed to choose one present for themselves. The rest of the money had to be used to buy Christmas gifts for others, such as family members or friends.
Emmanuel bought a necklace for his teacher, a pair of earrings for his grandmother and toys for his friends. He then bought some clothes he needed, outfits for church and school.
Donvonte Palmer, of Delray Beach, took care of his mother first before spending the rest of his money on himself. He got her a pair of ear rings, some headphones and some other goodies.
“She always buys me stuff and I never got to buy her anything because I don’t have any money,” said Palmer, 16, a student at Boynton Beach Charter School. “If I could, I would spend the entire amount on her because she deserves it.”
Store manager Morris Carstarphen gave the boys an additional $20 to assist.
Sometimes it was hard to tell who was having more fun, the kids or the cops.
“It was fun and exciting to see the brightness in their faces, them having fun,” said Mario Encarnacion, a mentor who escorted the youth as they shopped. “Giving them something they might not otherwise have gotten is great. Not only is it rewarding for the officers, it is for them too.”
The annual event aims to build positive relationships between children and law enforcement officials.
“It’s a friendly gesture from us to the kids,” explained Delray Beach Police Officer Scott Gregory, who shopped with the kids. “We don’t want them to feel apprehensive or afraid of police.”
After the shopping spree is over, the kids were treated to a meal at a local restaurant.
Shop with a Cop was made possible by Sam’s Club, Hypoluxo.
“This is a fun event,” said Delray Beach Police Lt. Michael Coleman, who coordinated the effort. “You get a lot of kids who don’t always have the opportunity to buy gifts for their families, and this gives them that opportunity.”