Niles police officials took time in December to spread some holiday season cheer to 25 children and their families.
On Dec. 9, police officers from the Niles Police Department hosted their third annual “Shop with a Cop” program. The event, by design, provided children in need with the opportunity to go shopping for holiday gifts and clothing.
“For us, it’s a way for us to work with the community in a positive way,” said Robert Tornabene, public information officer for the Niles Police Department. “A lot of officers volunteer their own personal time to come out there.”
Tornabene said police officers choose to participate because they believe in the mission of the program.
“It’s a way for young people to see officers in a positive light,” he said, noting that getting into trouble is, at times, the first encounter people experience with the police.
Niles Family Services identified 15 area families with a total of 25 children to participate in this year’s program. Members of the Niles Police Department accompanied the children as they perused the store.
“For individual officers, some have children that are special-needs,” Tornabene said. “It’s very rewarding for them.”
Tornabene said the event tends to spread a lot of cheer year after year.
“It’s always fun to watch their faces,” he said. “When you see them light up, that is the most satisfying for us.”
This year’s event was made possible thanks, in part, to a Walmart Foundation grant in the amount of $2,500. That means each participating child received $100 to pay for the items they selected.
“It’s not just toys for some of these kids,” Tornabene said. “They’ll pick clothing out.”
This is the second year the Niles Police Department has partnered with Walmart Corporation to put on the event.
“We are in the process of trying to expand [partnerships,] so that we can increase the number of youth that we impact,” Tornabene said. “That’s a future goal of ours.”