The Rainsville Police Department has begun preparing for their third year of Shop with a Cop this holiday season.
One of the purposes of the event is to foster positive relationships between youths and officers while helping families who need a little extra “holiday cheer.”
Rainsville Police Chief Kevin Smith said the event had grown exponentially from their first year.
“The first year we did it we had 15 kids, last year we had 59 and this year our goal is 100 kids,” he said.
Smith said the event shares the joy of Christmas with the children, and they also share the message that “Christmas is not about gifts; it’s about Jesus.”
“Also, some of these kids have had negative encounters with law enforcement such as mom or dad going to jail, and they are scared of us,” he said.
He said the goal of the program is to let the children see them as human beings and not as “the bad guys.”
Smith said they typically solicit donations and raise awareness through a variety of fundraisers and posts.
He said they put posts on Facebook and participated in Spirit Night at Chik-fil-A in which customers were able to donate a portion of the sale to the Shop with a Cop fundraiser.
He said Kayron Guffey has been helping them by selling chances on a Yeti cooler with all the proceeds going toward their fundraiser.
“The Ider Christmas in the Park is another type of fundraiser that we do, and Mycah Swift is in charge of that,” Smith said.
Smith credits Swift, an Ider student for starting the Shop With A Cop event in DeKalb County.
“She called me, and we just kind of jumped on board with her, and we have been fundraising together ever since,” he said.
Smith said the day before the event they buy $100 gift cards for each child to spend.
On the day of the event, law enforcement from the surrounding cities gather and pair with a child to help shop.
Smith said they invite other agencies to help with fundraising and to help shop, so they have enough cops per child.
According to Smith, applications would be out soon for applicants interested in applying.
“We will accept applications through December 5,” he said.
The following is a list of requirements and things to keep in mind when applying:
• Applicants can’t receive help from any other organization
• References and income are checked
• Must be a resident of DeKalb County
Smith asks for people not to reapply if they have been helped before by this program, he said, simply because they want to help other people too.
“There are so many that need our help. We want to help as many children as we can,” he said.
Smith said donations for this local charity stay strictly in DeKalb County to help provide needy children with gifts for Christmas.
He said the money “doesn’t leave this area.”
According to Smith, with this program, they strive to connect with the children, for them to not be afraid and to “bless them for Christmas.”
“We had children that were so scared of us, now they see us, and they look at us and think these are the guys that took me Christmas shopping; these are the guys that cared about me,” he said.
Donations can be dropped off at the Rainsville Police Department 24/7, and checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 309 Rainsville.
“If you write a check, we ask that you write on the memo line, ‘Shop with a Cop,’ that way, we can differentiate those funds,” Smith said.
For additional information, contact the Rainsville Police Department at 256-638-2157. Also check for updates for their Facebook page @RainsvillePoliceDepartment.