Kids shop with cops

Published 11:18 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

Suffolk Police Patrol Officer Paul Helvestine, left, helps DeAngelo Boone choose Christmas gifts for his family on Friday during the annual “Shop with a Cop” sponsored by the Suffolk Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 41.

Ten-year-old DeAngelo Boone frowned and looked at the ceiling as Suffolk Police Patrol Officer Paul Helvestine quizzed him in the electronics section of Walmart.

“What’s 40 plus 28?” Helvestine asked.

The store ceiling didn’t provide the answer, and DeAngelo gave up after a few seconds.

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“I need a piece of paper,” he said shyly.

Helvestine had been trying to get DeAngelo to add up the cost of the gifts he had picked out so far for his family members. Friday was the annual “Shop with a Cop” day for the Suffolk Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 41.

“When it’s all said and done, we’ll be spending close to $5,000,” said Allan Iversen Jr., a retired Suffolk Police lieutenant and president of the FOP lodge.

Members of the lodge took 20 children and teens shopping on Friday to buy Christmas gifts for family members — and maybe a little something for themselves, too. The families in need — all Suffolk residents — were recommended by Social Services and the Western Tidewater Community Services Board.

Each of the 20 children could spend roughly $100, Iversen said. The rest of the lodge’s holiday budget will go to buying gift cards and food baskets for a couple officers’ families who are struggling with health issues, as well as providing more than 20 other food baskets to needy families.

The money was raised through telephone solicitations of Suffolk citizens, as well as other donations and fundraisers.

Suffolk police officers and sheriff’s deputies followed the children around the store, giving ideas and helping them keep track of their budget.

“It shows the kids that officers are not just out there arresting people,” Iversen said. “We care about the community, and we care about them.”

Officer Helvestine followed DeAngelo through the toy, electronics, jewelry, home décor and clothing sections as DeAngelo searched for gifts for his brother, sister, father and godmother. DeAngelo kept up a running commentary on what he thought his family members would like.

Helvestine offered gentle guidance and help with math along the way.

“Forty plus 28 is 68, plus six is 74,” he told DeAngelo, pointing to the gifts in his hand. “So you have $26 left.”

Iversen said the lodge could not complete its holiday projects without the help of Walmart with the Shop with a Cop program, and Farm Fresh with the food baskets.

“It’s important for the kids to get to see us when we’re not in a squad car,” he said.