HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) — An annual tradition in Huntington brought smiles to children even though you couldn’t see it.
For 20 years, Huntington city and county officers have gathered at the local Walmart for Shop with a Cop. The event helps bring Christmas to kids in the community who might not have one otherwise and build a positive and long-lasting bond between children and local officers.
Former Huntington County Sheriff and current criminal justice teacher Terry Stoffel spearheads the event. Every year students in Huntington North High School’s Criminal Justice class raise money to help fund the shop extravaganza and every year the event continues to grow.
Students write letters to potential partners in the community and make personal calls to area businesses seeking donations.
Stoffel says the event gives students a hands on experience into community policing and helping their community.
This year’s event was different than in years past. Instead of officers being paired with participants, kids shopped with their families and received instructions from a handful of officers on the scene. The decision was made to help limit the exposure and spread of the virus.
“Getting the kids at school involved and seeing them see the importance of doing good stuff for others,” said organizer Terry Stoffel. “The smiles on the kids face knowing that in these economic down-turn times and they may not have a Christmas find out they are getting one the relation that they are getting one. It really hits them when they walk through the door.”
“It’s seeing the kids and the expressions on their faces and just seeing the smiles and the families being happy,” said Huntington Police Chief Chad Hacker.
This year 97 kids received a shopping spree. Organizers hope next year will be even bigger.