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Kids got a chance to “Shop with a Cop”

Christmas came early as local children got to pick out what presents to get and give.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 41 hosted its 12th annual Shop with a Cop event on Dec. 11. This event lets kids do some Christmas shopping for themselves and family members with a member of law enforcement.

“We enjoy having them out every year for the last 12 years now,” said Marilyn Rawls, the assistant manager at Walmart on Main Street. “We look forward to having the kids get what they need.”

The Western Tidewater Community Services Board recommended a group of 10 kids. Each could go on a $100 shopping spree for whatever they wanted to buy for Christmas. Some chose to spend the money on themselves, and others bought presents for their family, too.

When 8-year-old Ka’niyah Mitchell was asked about the toys she picked out for herself, she replied she felt “good.” But a smile and a small bounce came from her when saying that the gifts she bought for her mom and grandma made her feel “really good.”

Other kids chose to buy gifts for family members as well, even the four-legged ones.

“I’m happy,” said Leilani Nunez, age 7, about her choices. “I got a present for my grandma and my dog Pongo, he’s really big.”

With a tight budget came tough choices, making Leilani pace the accessory aisle of Walmart, deciding between a fuzzy pair of earmuffs or a spinning unicorn watch. Despite her love for all things unicorn, the earmuffs won out.

“I’ve just always wanted earmuffs,” said Leilani.

Leilani had Deputy Sandy Toby to help her find the right items for her little shopping spree. Toby also serves as the president of the Suffolk Lodge 41 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“It’s always great to help continue where we can,” said Toby. “Especially this year, when we were able to do very little fundraising.”

Due to the pandemic, the organization’s lack of fundraising forced it to cut the event back from its usual group of 20 to 30 kids to only 10. Despite the setback, Lodge 41 still gave back as much as they could.

“The Virginia State Lodge received toys from Pennsylvania, so each child will also receive two wrapped gifts as well,” said Allan Iversen, the lodge director. “We also donated some to Franklin’s lodge, because they haven’t had the chance to fundraise there hardly at all.”

The Fraternal Order of Police encourages the officers shopping to come in their uniforms to help the kids have a more positive view of law enforcement.

“We try to get as many as we can in uniform to get the kids to see them in a different light,” said Iversen. “The only time the kids usually see the officers when they pull up in the kid’s neighborhood at night when something bad happens. We just want to give a different point of view.”