Shop with a Cop Sees Record-Breaking Year

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Shop with a Cop, led by the Columbia Heights Police Association, saw a record-breaking year for donations in 2020. Through the support of the Columbia Heights community, the program raised more than $12,000 in its 11th year.

Throughout December, a Columbia Heights officer (or two) Shop-With-a-Cop-Storytakes parents to the Fridley Target to shop for holiday gifts. 

“Every dime we get for Shop with a Cop goes directly to the families,” said Sgt. Justin Pletcher.

The record-breaking $12,000 raised went straight to area families. In 2020, 31 families took part in the program, and 102 children received gifts. Families were also provided with money to buy clothing and food.

With the impact of COVID on the economy, families have been struggling to provide even basic necessities, let alone holiday gifts, said Sarah Palacios, who took part in the program this year.

“People are really struggling right now with COVID,” Palacios said. “I wasn’t going to be able to get my kids anything. It is really great to know that I can get them something without them knowing the difference.”

None of this would be possible without the support of the community.

“This program doesn’t exist without community members donating,” Pletcher said “I was worried this year because of COVID.  Are businesses struggling? Do people have money? But they outdid themselves.”

“There are a lot of good people out there,” Palacios added.

Preserving the Santa Magic

There’s a reason Columbia Heights officers bring the parents on the shopping trips instead of the kids.

“The kids don’t need to know that gifts are coming from the program,” Pletcher said. “It helps keep the magic of Christmas alive.”

Palacios agreed on the program format.

“I thought that was really cool actually,” she said. “I can say Santa brought the presents.”

12-30-2020