|Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle|
|Reynoldsburg police officer Kevin McDonnell helps Jason Pierce pick out a gift for one of his three sisters.|
Christmas came early for 12 Reynoldsburg elementary school students and their families when the recipients of the annual Shop with a Cop program were announced last month.
"I cried when I got the news," Krissa Pierce said.
Pierce, a mother of four children, all of whom are younger than the age of 10, has been struggling financially and was worried about being able to put presents under the tree.
That concern was lessened when her son Jason, a kindergarten student at Herbert Mills Elementary, came home with a notice that the Pierce family had been awarded a $200 gift card to go Christmas shopping at the Meijer Store on East Broad Street on Dec. 6.
"I just was shocked and so grateful for this," she said.
While making their budget at the beginning of the year, each Meijer store sets aside a certain amount of funds to be able to participate in the Shop with a Cop program. This year, the East Broad Street Meijer was able to donate $2,400 for the 12 children and their families.
"We always try to do something for kids who might not be able to have a Christmas," store manager Ed Hays said.
The East Broad Street Meijer store has only been open for six years, but they have hosted the Shop with a Cop program each year. Shop with a Cop gives children the opportunity to go around the each store that participates in the program and pick out Christmas gifts with the help of someone from the local law enforcement office or fire department.
"This is such an awesome program," Reynoldsburg police officer Scott Manny said.
Manny was one of the 12 officers with the Reynoldsburg Police Department, their reserve unit and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office who volunteered for the program.
"It’s a great opportunity to be a part of giving back to kids," he said.
During the 1-1/2-hour shopping excursion, Manny helped four children pick out gifts for their families while keeping it under their allotted $100 budget (the parent with them got the other $100 gift card to shop with).
For the most part, the kids managed their money well. They bought the popular items, such as Littlest Pet Shop and Webkinz for their siblings, and essentials for their parents, but the leftover budget, which was meant for them to pick out something for themselves, caused some conflict.
With less than $20 left on her gift card, fourth-grade Slate Ridge Elementary student Alexys Barfield found her way to the doll aisle.
"I can’t believe the cost of these Bratz kids," she said. "They are sky high."
Barfield contemplated putting some items back that she purchased for her family in order to buy herself a Bratz doll, but figured she would get one for Christmas and bought a stuffed animal for her unborn sibling instead.
"That’s what is so great about this program," Mays said. "The kids are very appreciative of what they have been given, and I find that they always want to spend more on others than they do themselves."