Law enforcement officials reach out to children in need for Christmas | ParkRecord.com

Law enforcement officials reach out to children in need for Christmas

Annual Shop with a Cop event returns Dec. 3

A Park City police officer shows toys to two children during the annual Shop with a Cop event last year. The event pairs underprivileged children in Summit County with law enforcement officers from several agencies across the Wasatch Back.

While the holidays are often referred to as the "most wonderful time of the year," for some, that saying does not always ring true.

Whether it's because of a family tragedy or financial constraints, a number of local families are unable to provide gifts for each other during the holiday season.

To help ease that burden and create Christmas miracles for underprivileged children in Summit County, several law enforcement officials from agencies across the Wasatch Back will be participating in the annual Shop with a Cop event.

On Saturday, Dec. 3, volunteers from the Park City Police Department, Summit County Sheriff's Office, Kamas City Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, federal agencies, and the U.S. Forest Service, will be paired with up to 80 children for a $150 shopping spree at the Walmart in Kimball Junction.

The children will eat breakfast with the officers and visit with Santa before taking a lights-and-sirens ride to Walmart with the officers. The recipients, toddler through middle school-aged children, are typically referred through local churches and the county's three school districts.

Each year, the Fraternal Order of Police tries to raise at least $10,000 to sponsor as many children as possible, Lt. Andrew Wright said. While resources are often limited the day, Wright said officers will take gift cards to families that were not able to participate the day of the event or who have older children.

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"This is our gift to them because we want to help them out," Wright said. "Our goal is to service and provide service and gifts to every child in need in our local community. We understand that is not always possible, but if we can do everything that we can to provide as much assistance then that is our No. 1 priority.

"Of course we are providing this charitable service, but the most important thing is we are building trust and a relationship with local children who may otherwise have a different opinion," he said. "We are just there to be their friend."

Donations for the event come from the Park City Police Department, Sheriff's Office, individual businesses, such as Berkshire Hathaway, and others, including Dr. Steven Mobley, a Salt Lake plastic surgeon, and the Park City Area Homebuilder's Association.

"I'm a Parkite and have lived here for about 15 ski seasons and we absolutely love it. Park City is such a small community, unlike the bigger ones where I grew up in, where you get to know the officers," Mobley said. "That tight connection and just to be able to give back is why I do it. I always thought we have a social responsibility to give something back to the community."

Mobley said he especially enjoys the interaction with the children the day of the event, adding "we pull our kids out of bed at 6 a.m. and it's something we always look forward to." Mobley will be accompanied by his wife, Britta, and their two sons at the event.

Mikel Archibeque, Park City Police Officer and Fraternal Order of Police lodge trustee, said spending the morning with children in the community is "the biggest thing for me."

"These kids are recommended to us from the schools and the church organizations. Obviously, they need it, but to see their generosity is amazing. Maybe I am just fortunate to be paired with the kids I have been through the years, but they seem to really take care of their family before they even think of buying something for themselves," Archibeque said.

Archibeque said, while the Utah law enforcement community is trying to rebound from two devastating tragedies, "events like this are important for us."

"It shows, specifically in the Park City and Summit County areas, that we understand that we can always do more. We want to have more of that mentality," Archibeque said.

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