GARNER — Last year, Garner police helped a family that lost its house in a fire during its annual Shop with a Cop event. This year, that family paid it forward by volunteering there time.
“That’s really something. Sometimes we don’t hear back from people. She wanted to give back what she had been given,” Det. Amy Miller, the event’s organizing officer, said.
This year’s Shop with a Cop effort helped 36 children, infant to high school age, from nine families go shopping with Garner police and some other volunteers on Dec. 15.
A party on the night of Dec. 14 precedes the event, with donated food feeding volunteers and families chosen for the event. Det. Amy Miller organizes the event, and each year social workers, school guidance counselors and police officers pass along the names of needy families and children to Miller.
The next morning, after a free breakfast, the families – each accompanied by volunteers including at least one officer – went on a shopping spree at Walmart.
TT&E Iron and Metal of Garner led the effort to bankroll Sgt. Santa’s operation. Other support came from Walmart, McDonald’s, Bruegger’s, Papa John’s, Jersey Mike’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-fil-A, La Roma Pizza, Domino’s, Food Lion, Lowes Foods, Mimi The Melody Maker and Town of Garner employees.
Volunteers include TT&E employees and the Police Athletics and Activities League cadets. PAAL is an outreach for local youth run by Garner police. Miller said children of volunteers as young as elementary school also pitched in.
The event got its start about 10 years ago, Miller said.
An officer had allowed a family living in its car to stay at a rental house he owned, and he asked co-workers to help provide the family a nice Christmas.
The family had two small children, and several officers donated presents.
Now dozens are served each year. This year, there were fewer families but TT&E’s donation remained the same, leaving more for each child.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland