Ocean Inc. “Shop with a Cop” Program
Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean Counties
With the support of the Walmart of Egg Harbor, Brick and Little Egg Harbor New Jersey along with many community partners including Ocean Inc. Community Action Agency, Police Athletic Leagues in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape may Counties, Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program, County Correction Departments and over 100 Police Officers from Atlantic, Ocean and Cape May Counties, the team brought the Shop With Cop event to over 300 needy children in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May Counties.
Shop with a Cop is an event where uniformed police officers and volunteers assist needy children with their holiday shopping, free of charge to the child and their families. The Police Athletic League in all three counties received referrals from school districts and existing family relationships to help identify the neediest children. Through strong collaboration between these organizations, the goal was to host a total of 300 children for a morning of shopping and visiting with Law Enforcement Officers throughout the entire region and the goal was exceeded.
The event coordinated by Ocean Inc., and PAL kicked off at the All Wars Memorial Building and with full police escort as the children’s buses made its way to the Walmart stores in each respective county. The event involved law enforcement at the highest level. The Shop with a Cop Program was funded in part by Ocean Inc. through the NJDCA Community Services Block Non-Discretionary Grant.
The Shop with a Cop Program promotes social justice and positive police relationships for families as they gain the skills, knowledge and enhance their ability to engage within the community. While shopping, officers engaged in conversation with each child asking them about current trends and the child’s areas of interest while shopping and selecting their holiday gifts.
Respectively the program enriches the lives of both the police officers and the children from disadvantaged families who are least likely to experience the gift of giving from someone else or unable to receive gifts themselves due to their inability to afford them during the holidays. The program also helps these families by allowing their children to see a positive side to law enforcement as police officers establish friendly relations with both the kids and their families.
PAL Quote - “This year Shop with a Cop was a blessing to all our youth and participating in this event helped children and their families have happier holidays said PAL Police Lt. Wilber “Willie” Santiago, who heads the Neighborhood Coordination Unit in Atlantic City. “Every officer chose the child they would shop with from the ward in which they’re assigned. “Some of these officers already have a relationship with their kid because they’ve been to their house for a crisis,” Santiago said. “Now, we’re in their lives. We have a connection with them and can see them grow.”
Preliminary collaboration with local community organizations, (i.e. local law enforcement, non-profits, faith-based organizations) play a huge role in the success of the program as they understand how to promote social justice and create positive police relationships for families as they gain the skills, knowledge and enhance their ability to engage with families within their perspective communities including school districts and existing family relationships to identify the neediest children.
“Shop with a Cop is a blessing to all our youth and participating in this event helped children and their families have happier holidays"