Spending increased for annual Shop with a Cop
Children were given $150 for Christmas shopping spree
As soon as 4-year-old Tucker Neill found a life-size Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuffed animal during the annual Shop with a Cop event on Saturday, he was content. Neill toted the stuffed animal around for the rest of the morning while his mother urged him to pick out more toys.
“He has had his heart set on that all week,” his mom, Stephanie Neill, said.
Neill, of Coalville, and four of her seven children participated in the Fraternal Order of Police’s annual Shop with a Cop event, which pairs underprivileged children in Summit County with 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.
The children were given $150 to spend at the Walmart in Kimball Junction, up $50 from last year, after many of the officers ended up contributing their own money to the purchases.
“It’s tremendous and we are so grateful,” Neill said. “With seven kids, it is really hard anyways. My boyfriend works really hard to provide for us and this is a tremendous help. With the little kids they can get the toys they want and it will help with us being able to get things for the older kids.”
Nearly 80 children participated in the event this year after being recommended by church organizations or one of the county’s three school districts. Several more children who weren’t able to attend were still given gift cards.
The children arrived at the Walmart to a crowd of cheering volunteers, including elves and a Santa, with an officer in tow.
Dan Cherkis, an officer with the Park City Police Department, said the experience is “extremely humbling.”
“I love it. This is my third time doing it. It’s great meeting the kids and seeing what kind of stuff they like,” Cherkis said. “This year they just want clothing and gloves and boots and we are just trying to get as much as we can for them.”
Sheriff Justin Martinez was paired with 8-year-old Justin Martinez, who he said is “just like a lot of the kids.”
“Their focus is on everyone but them. That is just one of the things that is so special about this program. They focus on ensuring that their families are taken care of before they are taken care of themselves,” Martinez said. “Now they have a little more to spend and we are just making sure that we fulfill that. Whatever it is that they need.”
This year, the Fraternal Order of Police raised approximately $18,000 for the event with donations from the Park City Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and individual businesses.
Dr. Steven Mobley, a Salt Lake plastic surgeon, contributes the money from the cosmetic surgeries he performs during the months of November and December to raise thousands of dollars for the event. Mobley brings his wife and children to the event each year.
“Raising the money is the work of it, but seeing the kids’ joy with the police officers and I love seeing the excitement of the kids,” Mobley said. “If you just raise the money and don’t come and watch, it’s not as fulfilling.”
Britta Mobley said it is her family’s fourth year participating.
“I think one of the things that it really teaches you to is that my first year that we were here we knew the kids benefiting the program and I always say you never know what life is like for the person next to you,” Mobley said. “We are all looking for ways to reach out this is just incredibly fulfilling and knowing our community of officers.”
For Summit County Council member Kim Carson, it was her first time attending the event. Carson said the day was “filled with smiles.”
“I just appreciate the goodwill that it builds with our law enforcement in the community,” Carson said.
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Hideout residents have begun the process to challenge the town’s annexation of Richardson Flat. The referendum application is in its early stages, but a group of residents will be tasked with collecting about 100 signatures in coming months to put the question to voters.