(BIVN) – The 2nd Annual “Shop with a Cop” charity event was held at the Hilo Target Store on Saturday morning. The collaborative community event helps bring joy to at-risk teens and young children during the holidays in a unique way, organizers say.
The South Hilo Community Policing Unit and off-duty police officers teamed up with representatives from Catholic Charities Hawaii, the Pāhoa chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Hilo Target Store, to pick up holiday gifts with pre-selected youth, who ranged in age from toddlers to teenagers.
Organizers say the young shoppers are chosen from community programs for children in need, “as they really are the most fragile youth in our community.” They say the event “bridges important relationships and transforms possible fears into friendships.”
The children met with the officers and then took pictures with Santa, who gave them each a $100 gift card. The children then paired off with an officer, who escorted them around the store and helped them shop for gifts. Many of the kids wanted to purchase presents for their family members, first. The event included a party buffet and a Christmas goodie bag for the keiki to take home.
Police say the annual event is organized by Catholic Charities Hawaiʻi in partnership with the Hawaiʻi Police Department, the Hilo Target Store and a growing generous team of Hawaiʻi Island donors. This year’s funders are the Pāhoa VFW Post 3830, Pāhoa VFW Post 3830 Auxiliary, St. Michael the Archangel Church in Kona, Annunciation Parish in Kamuela, Pacific Solar Technologies, LLC, the Hilo Target Store and Ladies of the Daisy Giving Circle.