Originally published Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 12:33p.m.

COTTONWOOD – Each year, Verde Valley law enforcement agencies partner to make Christmas a little brighter for a select few of lower income children. Last year, 40 police officers took 30 children, ages 7-12, to Wal-Mart where each child was able to spend $150 each.

This year, about 45 children have been selected to go shopping with police officers Saturday for the 15th annual Shop with a Cop.

“The amount of children we take shopping is dependent upon the amount of officers and volunteers that participate,” said Sgt. Monica Kuhlt.

The sponsoring agencies help children who’ve experienced tragedy, are less fortunate or would benefit from this program.

Shop with a Cop began in 2003, and each year, enough money has been raised to take local kids shopping.

“I have been a part of the program since day one and now I see some of the kids we took shopping years ago having children of their own,” said Sgt. Kuhlt.

Saturday morning, children and officers will be paired up and have breakfast together. Pepe’s Café will cater breakfast for approximately 125 people. After breakfast, the children and officers will travel to the airport where Santa will fly in from the North Pole by way of helicopter.

After he lands, all caravan with lights and sirens with Santa leading the way to Wal-Mart. Each child will receive $150.00 to shop with. While at Wal-Mart, the children will have an opportunity to have their and the officer’s picture taken with Santa.

“It’s a fun program for kids that offers one-on–one time with a police officer while doing something worthwhile in a caring atmosphere,” said Sgt. Kuhlt.

“The program teaches youth responsibility and an opportunity to learn that police officers are not only agents of protection but they are also one’s best friend! Simply stated, this is a mutually beneficial project because not only do the kids learn a great deal about police officials but the police officials experience a renewed sense of service and partnership with the community.”

Some of the agencies who participate are the Cottonwood Police Department, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Clarkdale Police Department, Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, Yavapai Apache Tribal Police, Sedona Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, State Parks, and Arizona Rangers.

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