What do Converse County deputies have in common with Santa Claus?
The men and women of the CC Sheriff’s Office took 10 boys and girls shopping on the morning of Dec. 23 all over town for the Shop with a Cop program.
Splitting off into cop-and-kid combos, the youngsters were off on a spending sprees – allowed to spend between $180-$200 a person – on anything they wanted.
“Within reason. There can’t be any types of things associated with violence, no knives, no swords, nothing that shoots projectiles,” said Undersheriff Nathan Hughes.
The Shop with a Cop program started three years ago, when the Converse County Sheriff’s Office was approached by representatives from the Converse County Republican Party, who said they wanted to start the program here in Converse County – and, they had funds to donate toward it.
“We met with commissioners, set up an account that allows us to take donations and spend them for this program specifically,” CC Sheriff Clint Becker said.
It operates completely by donation, Hughes said. This year the CCSO had $1,850 to spend on the kids participating in the program.
“Each year we’ve been able to do it, we’ve done it based completely on donations. The Republican Party has always been a part of it, always donates. There are anonymous donations, too. By the end of November we know how much we have in the (account) and how many kids we can help,” Hughes said.
The CCSO doesn’t make the selection of youth who get to participate. Names are selected through various entities around town, including children’s services, school counselors, churches and other organizations.
Parents/Guardians have to sign-off with their approval for the kids to participate. Children who take part in the program are generally between the ages of 7-14 years old.
“We pretty much let them shop for whatever they want, so long as it’s age-appropriate and non-violent. If they can’t find something they want locally, then we offer them the option to shop online for their gifts. Every year we’ve had some kids who buy gifts only for their parents and siblings, and nothing for themselves,”
Hughes said he enjoys being a part of the program because he loves seeing the kids happy.
“It’s all about giving and it’s all about the kids,” he said.