(BIVN) – The third annual “Shop With A Cop” event at the Target store in Hilo on Saturday brought holiday joy to families and local keiki.
The collaborative, community effort is coordinated by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i and involves the officers of the Hawaiʻi Police Department. Year after year, the event “brings much needed holiday joy to at-risk teens and young children during the holidays, while fostering positive relationships between the youth and the police officers,” organizers say. “The children participating in this effort have experienced various traumatic experiences in their lives.”
This year’s effort focused on families and children who were displaced by the recent eruption of Kīlauea in Leilani Estates. The volcanic event placed severe economic and social hardships on many who were affected.
Before the day of the event, organizers say a total of 58 keiki were set to participate in the Hilo event. Each child received a $100 TARGET gift card, and hit the aisles to shop with a Hawaiʻi County Police Department officer for about a half-hour. Participants – many of whom opted to use their gift card to shop for their family – also received special complimentary gift wrapping by Target stores, Hawaii Electric Light Co. and VFW 3830 volunteers.
The family of fallen Hawaiʻi County police officer Bronson Kaliloa – wife Casey, sons Samson and Nathan, and daughter Grace – also participated in the event.
Catholic Charities Hawai‘i has been serving Hawaiʻi since 1947, offering “assistance to people in need, regardless of faith and culture.” They are a partner agency of Aloha United Way and a member of the nationwide Catholic Charities USA organization.