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Students overtake Alliston’s Canadian Tire to Shop With a Cop

December 16, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Members of the Nottawasaga detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) met with students from local elementary schools on Saturday, December 11, at Canadian Tire in Alliston for the annual Shop With a Cop event.

The program, specific to the Nottawasaga OPP, is a volunteer initiative that pairs off-duty police officers with select students from 19 schools, with each student receiving a minimum of $100 to buy gifts for their family members, and something for themselves.

OPP officers help with gift selection, and chat with the students – selected by their schools for various reasons – as they shop. The event, attended this year by OPP Inspector Steve Ridout and Staff Sgt. Wade Beebe, is also an opportunity for students to have a fun, positive experience with an officer in a neutral setting.

“Shop With a Cop started in December 2017, so this is our fifth year,” Constable Cindy Jacome, Media Relations Officer with the Nottawasaga OPP, told The Times. “This is my second year taking the lead from the detachment and unfortunately things have changed slightly from last year due to COVID–19. In the past we have been able to ask everyone back to the detachment to help wrap gifts, have lunch and watch a Christmas movie. Things have changed at this point with us providing kids with wrapping paper and tape to take home instead. In place of some of the other stuff, we started putting together loot bags for each youth.”

Fundraising for Shop With a Cop begins in early October, and raising $100 per student was set as a goal in 2021. 

“Fundraising is mainly done through Murphy’s Farm Market – they are amazing!” said Const. Jacome “Local businesses contribute to this event every year, along with community members that wish to donate. Canadian Tire also donated to the event this year and they are eager to participate again next year. This year there was an opportunity to purchase a hay bale to decorate for $100 as part of the fundraising efforts at Murphy’s Farm – and it was a huge success. The Nottawasaga OPP also decorated one. In all, $3,600 was raised this year; this was the most amount raised to date. That allowed each youth a $140 Canadian Tire gift card and wiggle room for overages.”

Const. Jacome also told The Times that officers often quietly pay the difference of the students’ bill at checkout, out of their own pockets. 

“Community members, while they are shopping during the event, have also been known to provide extra gift cards or money to the youth while they are shopping. Alliston McDonald’s also provides Happy Meals and ice-cream gift certificates for every youth,” confims Const. Jacome

Const. Jacome says the students decide what they spend their money on, and the officers help by offering suggestions and keeping them on budget. “It is important for them to pick something as well for themselves, as this event is for them,” she said. 

With its success over the past several years, Const. Jacome says she is looking forward to next year’s event, and has no doubt it will be bigger and better than ever.

“Any and all community members or businesses can help.”

A donation can be made at Murphy’s Farm or a hay bale can be purchased for decorating. For further info they can reach out to Murphy’s Farm or to me directly,” she said. (Look to The Times in fall 2022 for more information).

“This event is truly my favourite event. I have not missed an opportunity to participate in it since it started back in 2017. The positive interaction with youth and officers is a great experience for all,” said Const. Jacome. “The joy it brings to our local youth and conversations shared with officers is priceless.”

By Wendy Gabrek

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