Back to school season is in full swing and stores are full with kids and their parents gearing up for another school year. The Valparaiso F.O.P. Lodge #76 teamed up with Housing Opportunities to assist children who can’t afford back to school items on their own. On August 17, 14 kids were able to “Shop with a Cop” at the Valparaiso Target.
Last year, the Valparaiso Police Department became a contributor to Housing Opportunities. “The Shop with a Cop is our annual way of donating to the cause,” stated Officer Shannon Morris. Other police departments participate in similar programs around Christmas but the Valpo police “thought it would be great to do Back to School, a needy time for parents.” Each kid was given $125 to spend on clothes and other back to school items that they need. “We’ve had really good donations from the community,” said Morris, “We have funds to continue this program for the next couple years.”
The increased funds not only allowed more kids to shop this year, up from 10 in the previous year, but it also provided the opportunity to work with The Caring Place and donate backpacks filled with school supplies to 8 kids. “We’re looking to open the program up to more and more kids,” stated Morris.
Several parents attended the shopping experience with their kids as well. Jayson Edmond shopped alongside his daughter, Isabella, age 7. “It’s a good thing they’re doing, helps out a lot of people,” stated Edmond. Jayson has been disabled from a car wreck in January, keeping him out of work, so having the funds to make sure his daughter has what she needs for back to school is a meaningful experience. “It’s pretty awesome. They’ve done a great deal for a lot of people.”
Cathy Havlin was also on hand with her children Cortnee, Carlisle, Breanna, and Zachary. “It’s a fun experience, fun for the kids to do,” she said, tearing up a bit, “It saves me money I don’t have.”
“This has been such an encouragement and blessing to these families to have this opportunity,” stated Kathleen McClure, Fund Developer with Housing Opportunities. “We are so thankful for the kindness of the police department. It’s over the top kindness.”
- Officer Mike DeHaven gives Ian, age 3, shopping advice
- Yvonne Condo, secretary in the detective bureau helps Bella, age 7, pick out back to school clothes
- VIPS (Volunteer in Police Service) Cindy Dedloff helps Kevin, age 11, pick out jeans
- Rion Jackson, age 7, decides on a shirt to buy
- Officer Shannon Morris and Officer Keith Perez discuss super hero clothing with Rion
- Officer Mike DeHaven walks with Ian after finishing their shopping