The Boardman Kmart store will be raided Saturday by more than 50 police officers accompanied by children in search of gifts for family and friends.
The Fraternal Order of Police Youngstown Lodge No. 28 will host its annual shop with a cop program at the Kmart location on Boardman-Poland Road. About 50 children have been selected from city schools to be paired with active and retired police officers for the event.
The children participating were selected from the Youngstown City Schools based on their school attendance and an essay they were required to write dealing with how they are making a difference in their respective schools.
The young people will meet police officers at Williamson Elementary School for breakfast Saturday morning. After breakfast, they will travel to Kmart, where they will each be paired with an officer and given $100 to spend on Christmas gifts for family and friends.
Victoria Allen, one of the event organizers, said the program has several goals, including boosting the self-esteem of the children involved, promoting decision-making and responsibility, and giving the students an opportunity to see police officers in a different, less-threatening atmosphere.
“This builds that relationship between the children and local law enforcement,” Allen said. “The officers who participate in the program can’t ride down the street without 50 kids waving at them. They recognize them out in the community.”
The kids and officers participating, Allen said, also just have fun spending the early part of the day together shopping.
Money to fund the program is provided by the Fraternal Order of Police and donations.
A similar event also will take place Dec. 11 in Trumbull County.
Fraternal Order of Police No. 137, representing Trumbull deputies, will have its shop-with-a-cop program hosted at the Eastwood Mall food court starting at 5:30 p.m. About 40 children are expected to participate.
After the children eat, they and their deputy partners will proceed to the Super Kmart on state Route 46 for gift shopping, according to a press release from Trumbull Deputy Dallas Young.