Needy children to `Shop with a Cop’

Merry Cooper

The Ames Police Department is working hard to help spread some holiday cheer to some of the younger members of the community.

At 6:45 a.m Saturday ., the Ames Police Department will host its eighth annual Shop with a Cop event.

The Ames Police Department will be teaming up with the ISU Department of Public Safety and the Story County Sheriff’s Office to take needy children shopping for Christmas gifts at Kmart, said Ames Police officer Geoff Huff, who coordinates Shop with a Cop.

“We started this program in 1994 to help underprivileged children who won’t have a very merry Christmas without assistance,” he said.

Tom Shelton, community resource officer for the Ames Police Department, said he has participated in the program for the last two years.

“Almost all of the officers go, and each officer is assigned to a kid or several kids, if there are more than one child in a family,” said Tom Shelton, community resource officer for the Ames Police Department.

Children whose families are at or below the poverty line could apply to become part of the program, Huff said.

The amount of money for gifts given to each child “varies from year to year and child to child,” he said. “We try to give as much as we can. We base it on need as much as possible.”

Money for the program comes from donations made by the citizens of Ames and Story County.

“We use the utility files, so we send a brochure to everyone who gets their utilities in Ames,” Huff said. “We don’t do any telemarketing, and we don’t pay anyone for the information.”

Helping the community during what can be a very difficult time of year for underprivileged people serves as great motivation for the participating officers, he said.

“We also want the children to see the officers as people who want to help,” Huff said.

“We want to be a positive role model and show the kids that we aren’t bad. We are real human beings.”