MEDINA — Officers helped 30 kids find the right shoe size and pick out a new backpack with school supplies during Shop with a Cop Back to School at Target on Sunday morning.
“The Fraternal Order of Police raises the money through community donations, and we sell raffle tickets. We have our yearly fundraiser; we have our solicitation campaign to raise funds for this,” said Brett Robertson, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 204 vice president and Montville Township police officer.
The event was hosted by FOP Lodge 204, with officers from across Medina County donating their time for the event, Montville police executive assistant Rebecca Byrnes said.
“Today we have Lodi here. We have Medina Township, Medina Police Department, Montville Township. We have the sheriff’s office. We have a trooper here. We have ATF,” Byrnes said.
The morning kicked off with a pancake breakfast at Medina Fire Station 1 where children received a raffle item before heading out to patrol cars and emergency vehicles for a parade with lights flashing and sirens blaring to nearby Target.
“Each department selects their own kids,” Robertson said. “It is typically done through the schools through the free lunch program, or through community-based organizations that identify those that may need that assistance.”
Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Ashley Ross said Sunday was her first time participating in Shop with a Cop.
“To have a good positive influence on the kids is the most important part of this and the fact that they have good school supplies to start school,” Ross said. “I think that this is an awesome program.”
Lodi Police Chief Keith Keough said Shop with a Cop is something his department looks forward to all year.
“We have contact with these kids, right D?” Keough said as he high-fived his shopping partner, Dustin Myer, 8, of Lodi. “We do this one and we do the Christmas one.”
Keough said it is good for police to be able to serve as mentors to local youth.
“We get to know the kids; they get to know us, so they are not frightened of us,” he said.
Robertson said when FOP fundraises for Shop with a Cop, the funding goes toward a Christmas celebration that includes about 150 kids and the smaller back-to-school edition at the end of summer.
Sunday’s event costs $6,000, with Target providing discounts on merchandise and donations from Yours Truly, Walmart and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank blending together to make a fun and successful day for area students, Robertson said.
Shop with a Cop “helps to increase the bond between at-risk youth and police officers,” he said. “We try to grow that relationship so they can identify with police officers and know that we are there to help. …”