A number of Camden School kids entered the Sangertown Square Mall with a hero’s welcome. They were about to spend some time shopping with a cop. Tracy Hooker Coordinates the event and tells us how the program got started.
"You know we take for granted the things that we have, until you have an opportunity to see the faces of kids coming into the mall who don’t normally have the chance to get anything they want, and it’s great to be able to see that and give kids that opportunity."
It not only gives kids an opportunity to get something they normally wouldn’t get, but also creates a personal connection with police officers. Something many kids can find intimidating, but for 4th Grader Paul Downing Jr. it wasn’t the police making him uncomfortable.
"Not you. It’s actually I’m a little nervous with (points)… Oh that’s because you’re on TV. Sure."
Other kids were having so much fun shopping, they couldn’t decide what to buy. That kind of shopping can drive you nuts, but Oneida County Sheriff Investigator Mark Chrysler was clearly enjoying it.
MC: "Do you want the red one? Robert Ridley: (I want the red one.) MC: What do you think? Robert Ridley: (Good.) MC: I like the red one too. Robert Ridley: (I want it.) MC: You want the red one? Robert Ridley: (Actually no. No. No. No. Spiderman gun!)"
Mark Chrysler: "It’s awesome. That’s why I do it every year. It’s a great thing. These kids are just… you know… how so you not smile when they smile? Just, it’s a good thing, so that’s what it’s all about."
Every kid was able to spend $100 buying something for themselves, but some chose to buy things for others instead. It’s the kind of giving that Christmas is all about, and the kind of program approved by Santa Claus himself.
"That they can count on the person with the uniform on, and if they run into trouble they got somebody to go to that they can talk to. So I think it’s a good thing."
In addition to shop with a cop, teachers and staff from the Camden School District also sponsor a number of families to help get them through the holidays.