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More than 200 kids get to 'Shop with Cops' in St. Paul

Updated: December 07, 2019 10:34 PM

There was a flurry of activity at the Midway Target as St. Paul Police brought more than 200 kids on a holiday shopping spree.

Each present is going to a special person in the child's life.

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"I see some smiles," Sgt. Candice Jones said.

Jones has been helping with these shopping trips for more than a dozen years.

“It’s nice to get out and see the kids,” she said.

Sgt. Jones and Officer Iliya Tereshko brought two brothers around the store, checking off each item on their lists. Each child was given $100 to spend.

“The positive interaction with law enforcement, just to foster that early on so when they become teens and adults they know they can come to us for help if they need it," Tereshko said.

Many of these officers volunteered their time. Some even took the day off so they could participate.

“Sometimes we go to calls and it's unpleasant or difficult situations so when we're able to go and smile and laugh and pick out some gifts and get to know each other on that level, it's very nice,” Officer Matt Flynn said.

He’s been an officer for 19 years and said he’s participated almost every year.

“It's just fun to see folks getting their stuff for Christmas and getting to connect,” he said.

Shop with Cops started 20 years ago in St. Paul. Arnoldo Curriel, the co-founder, is from Frogtown. He said he wanted to help officers interact with the communities they patrol.

At that point, only 20 kids and 20 officers participated. It’s continued to grow every year.

The program is funded entirely through donations and grants. Children selected are kindergarten through 6th grade. Curriel said they focus on kids who could benefit from a positive interaction with police.

“You start building that trust,” he said. “Let’s be honest about that, typically when a lot of these kids are interacting with police officers for the first time, it's not always a positive one.”

Many officers, including Jones, also brought their own children and families to help.

“She gets to see what it's like to be out in the community and to do things like this,” Jones said. “It's really important to teach your children to do volunteer work, pass it on and hopefully she'll continue to do things like that.”

If you would like to participate, check out the Shop with Cops website.
 

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Credits

Callan Gray

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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