‘A very big blessing’
Newark cops take kids on shopping spree
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.
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.
Officer Aaron Olicker helps Jordan Trotter, 5, shop for toys at Kmart on Saturday.
Officer Corey Spencer helps Damien Campbell, 10, shop for toys at Kmart on Saturday.