COVINGTON, Ga. – The Covington Police Department has put a new spin on its Shop with a Cop Christmas shopping spree for Newton County foster children with a back to school shopping trip July 27.
CPD Lt. Chris Smith told The Covington News the back to school event for 10 foster children seemed like a natural extension of the department’s annual December activity where officers take kids Christmas shopping.
“We put a new spin on it. We wanted to take it to a new level,” Smith said. “We started thinking that we could do one for some foster children going back. These kids are already going through a difficult time and we wanted to make it so when they walked into school on the first day, they had every single thing they needed.
“They had new clothes, new shoes, any necessity they needed.”
Smith said the idea was to send the children back to school with confidence but there was another motivation.
“Most importantly, they were prepared for the school year,” he said.
Smith said Newton County Division of Family and Children Services and Court Appointed Special Advocates helped select the children for the shopping trip.
“The chief allowed us to use $250 per child,” he said. “Those funds come from the ‘Police Who Care’ fund. That’s the money that’s raised from the Fuzz Run throughout the year.”
Smith said the officers took the children to the Kohl’s store in Conyers for their shopping trip.
“Each child had an officer,” he said. “And Kohl’s just welcomed us with open arms. And they gave an additional 30 percent off of the purchases so the $250 actually went over $300.”
Smith said in addition to new school clothes, CPD, working with Lyndsay Tyner, of Newton County CASA, found out what school supplies each child would need to start school.
“Each year, each grade and each class has a whole different list,” he said. “So we figured out the school name, the class, and obtained that particular list. Last Wednesday, Lindsay, and some officers went to Walmart with those lists and purchased almost $1000 in school supplies.”
Smith said once the Kohl’s trip was complete, the children, ages 5-12, came back to CPD headquarters for a pizza party where they were presented with book bags filled with everything they needed to start school.
Smith said the goal was to fully prepare the children for their first day of school.
“Our whole vision behind this was when they departed from us Friday afternoon, one, they had fun. And two, they don’t need another thing,” he said.
Smith said while every CPD cop involved enjoyed the shopping trip, it was also another opportunity to let the children see a different side of police officers. He said many times, a child’s first involvement with the police might come in a time of crisis.
“Typically, these children have had involvement with us and it’s not their fault,” Smith said, “It’s usually based off of poor decisions that their parents have made.
“Our idea behind it was we wanted to do something so they see that we’re good-hearted people and we’re here to help them always. We laughed and we cut up and we had a good time. That’s what it was all about. It wasn’t about what we purchased.
“It was more about watching them smile and letting them know that these police officers are here for them 24/7.
"One of these children may grow up to be a Covington police officer,” he said.