‘A very big bless­ing’

Ne­wark cops take kids on shop­ping spree

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Given $100 to buy toys, 5-year-old Te­about Hask­ins first thought of his big sis­ter, 8-year-old Truth. He picked out a doll and other items for her as he walked around Kmart with Ne­wark Po­lice Of­fi­cer Me­gan Keat­ing.

As he passed Truth in an aisle, he stopped to show her the doll and give her a big hug.

“I’m go­ing to shop for my brother now, be­cause he bought me a lot,” Truth said, adding she had al­ready picked out a gift for her dad.

That touch­ing mo­ment be­tween sib­lings was just one of many mo­ments that brought smiles to the faces of the more than 20 Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment of­fi­cers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Shop with a Cop event Satur­day morn­ing. The of­fi­cers treated 16 de­serv­ing kids to a shop­ping spree just in time for Christ­mas.

This is the third year NPD

has spon­sored the com­mu­nity-en­gage­ment event.

“It’s im­por­tant to get these in­ter­ac­tions early with kids, so when they’re older, they re­al­ize we’re their friends,” Lt. Fred Nel­son said.

The ef­fort was funded by pro­ceeds from NPD’s No Shave Novem­ber pro­gram, in which of­fi­cers paid to be able to grow beards last month. A lo­cal res­i­dent chipped in a $100 do­na­tion, as well.

“It gives us a chance to get into the com­mu­nity and get them to have a pos­i­tive im­age of po­lice of­fi­cers,” Cpl. Bran­don Walker said.

He added that Nerf guns were pop­u­lar among the kids this year.

“I guess we’ll have some fun Nerf wars,” he said, laugh­ing.

Kagome Ma­tousek, 12, picked out a Lit­tlest Pet Shop toy and other items with help from Of­fi­cer Kelsey O’Donnell.

“I like that we can spend time with a cop and get to know them,” she said. “I also like the chance to have gifts we pick out.”

With Lt. Nel­son’s help, C.J. Stokes, 9, picked out a few Lego toys and a Wild West play set. How­ever, his fa­vorite toy was a re­mote-con­trolled taran­tula.

“I’m go­ing to scare my cats,” he said.

Nine-year-old Ab­dul Wat­son spent the morn­ing brows­ing the toy aisle with Deputy Chief Mark Far­rall.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate it,” he said. “I like to shop with a po­lice of­fi­cer.”

Ab­dul picked out a Nerf gun and had his eye on a Star Wars light saber, but not all of Far­rall’s sug­ges­tions were well-re­ceived.

“I’m try­ing to get him to pick a Steel­ers hat,” Far­rall said, laugh­ing, as Ab­dul, a New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots fan, said no.

Nicole Miller, mother to Truth and Te­about, en­joyed watch­ing her kids pick out their toys.

“This is so cool,” she said. “They’ve been wait­ing for this for a while.”

Sher­rita Green con­curred as she watched her kids, 7-year-old Jay­den and 5-year-old Jor­dan, shop.

“All week, I was try­ing to keep it a se­cret, but I told them a lit­tle bit. They were ex­cited,” Green said. “They don’t get to do this too much.”

As he waited at the check­out line, Ti­mothy Hask­ins, 11, turned around to Sgt. Greg D’Elia and said, “Thank you.”

“It was a bless­ing, a ver y big bless­ing,” he added.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Truth Hask­ins, 8, hugs her 5-year-old brother, Te­about, af­ter he showed her a doll he had picked out for her dur­ing the Shop with a Cop event. Look­ing on are of­fi­cers Alex Whitt and Me­gan Keat­ing.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Of­fi­cer Aaron Olicker helps Jor­dan Trot­ter, 5, shop for toys at Kmart on Satur­day.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Of­fi­cer Corey Spencer helps Damien Camp­bell, 10, shop for toys at Kmart on Satur­day.

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