Faces young and old alike were bright with smiles at the "Shop with Our Cop" event at the Michigan City Wal-Mart on Monday, December 8. NIPSCO, the Michigan City Police Department, union workers, Wal-Mart staff, the Michigan City Zoo, and WIMS AM 1420 radio station joined together with Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters to bring Christmas cheer to children and adults with learning and developmental disabilities.
NIPSCO joined forces with the building trades and organized this event to connect with the less fortunate of the La Porte County community.
Scott Cooley, Senior Representative at IKORCC, stated, "We're just honored to have the opportunity to have good jobs in the community and to be able to lend a helping hand to our fellow community members in need."
NIPSCO spent several months fundraising in order to provide these children and adults with gifts. Thanks to their hard work, NIPSCO was able to provide each participant with $80 to spend at Wal-Mart.
David Strong, a contractor with NIPSCO who volunteered at Shop with a Cop, said, "It's actually a very big deal on our job site, raising money for this event. We've been raising money for this since June 28."
The hard work was well worth the reward, as Strong noted it was great to see such a large turnout at this event.
Hundreds of developmentally challenged children and adults, along with their families, gathered in the garden center of the Michigan City Wal-Mart to participate in this event. Along with shopping with a cop, they enjoyed cupcakes, met Santa and Mrs. Claus, and interacted with an owl, miniature alligator, and a skunk from the Michigan City Zoo.
Michigan City Police Sergeant Chris Yagelski participated in "Shop with Our Cops" by partnering together the children and adults with police officers and NIPSCO volunteers for shopping.
"This was our second year, but our first time doing it with the challenged and handicapped kids of La Porte County. I call them kids, but some of them are young adults, and it's just a great mixture of people," Sergeant Yagelski said, thoroughly enjoying the event. "Helping, shopping, just seeing these faces just amazes you. My hat's off to all the officers who came to donate their time. They're all here donating and doing this out of the goodness of their hearts."
The goodness of NIPSCO and the Michigan City Police Department certainly touched the hearts of the La Porte County children and adults. Kelsey Lynnhelmer, one of the children who shopped around Wal-Mart with a cop, shone with excitement and joy at getting to be part of the event.
"It is very exciting out here, and there are a whole lot of people getting a whole bunch of gifts. I hope this goes on a whole while, because everybody's getting all their wishes today," Lynnhelmer said.
Other children and adults' faces expressed a similar sentiment of excitement and gratitude for the generosity of NIPSCO and the Michigan City Police Department.
The IKORCC "Shop with Our Cops" at the Michigan City Wal-Mart brought together people of different ages from all across the La Porte County communities together to celebrate the true meaning of the Christmas season: fun times, community fellowship, and giving to others.