Shop with a cop -- 39 kids, 50
cops and Santa arriving from the sky
THIS IS THE ONE!: Officer
Rob Johnson from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
looks on as Calob points Saturday to a yellow remote-controlled
bulldozer toy in Kmart. Calob and Officer Johnson were
part of Kmart's annual Shop with a Cop program where
kids are chosen by the Division of Family and Child
Services to be recipients of $100 each to spend on their
families for Christmas. / Photo by Brittny Goodsell
December 10, 2008 | LOGAN -- The sun was still sleeping
when 5-year-old Calob was escorted by a police officer,
in a car with flashing lights, to the parking lot of
Kmart in Logan. The temperature was about 32 degrees
and Calob was dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a red
coat. His green name tag hung around his neck.
As Officer Rob Johnson and Calob walked to join a crowd
in front of the retail store, the droning from a far-off
helicopter was heard. People started pointing to the
sky and saying, "Look, Santa's coming."
Calob turned to Officer Johnson and said, "Maybe he
came on a bird!"
Before the helicopter hit the ground, Calob showed
a passer-by his Band-aid covered finger. Then he said
he wanted a remote-controlled airplane from the store
today. Then he turned to a woman and said, "See where
those cones are out there, that's where a helicopter
Orange cones were set in the middle of Kmart's parking
lot to mark Santa's helicopter landing. Calob, along
with 39 other kids and at least 50 cops, watched as
the helicopter made its way down into the parking lot,
blowing cold air onto everyone. Calob shivered in his
coat and smiled.
Even though the crowd started cheering when Santa
stepped off the chopper, Calob seemed skeptical.
"That's a fake Santa because he doesn't have a pack
on him," Calob said.
Shop With a Cop happened Dec. 6 at the Logan Kmart.
More than 50 police cars with flashing lights and sirens
pulled into the parking lot one after another at 8 a.m.
Saturday. Each car had a cop and a kid inside. The annual
fundraising and shopping event is designed for kids
to buy gifts for themselves and their families. The
kids are mostly found through the Division of Family
and Child Services.
Relda Sandgren, Kmart employee who has been in charge
of Shop with a Cop for 16 years, took charge of the
program after Kmart dropped it due to bankruptcy problems.
More than 16 years ago, Sandgren said each kid typically
got $20 to buy gifts. Since then, the average amount
has grown to $100.
Chief Kim Hawkes, of North Park Police Department,
has been helping with Shop with a Cop for 15 years.
He said donations are made by Cache Valley residents
during the year. The amount raised determines the amount
of kids that can be picked for Shop With a Cop.
By the end of October, Sandgren said she only had
enough money for 28 kids. During the application process
to choose the kids, Sandgren said more money came in
and she was able to bump the number of kids up to 41.
Calob already has a plan on how to spend his $100.
Before buying his sister a doll with a stroller, his
dad a sweatshirt and his mom a Christmas angel, Calob
headed to the toy aisle. He wanted a remote-controlled
With the help of Officer Johnson, conservation officer
from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Calob
looked at airplanes, dump trucks and bulldozers. At
one time, a yellow remote-controlled bulldozer went
into the cart. He saw a red fire truck that flashed
and wailed but he passed it by because there wasn't
a ladder on the fire truck. He was serious about his
Officer Johnson, who has been involved with Shop with
a Cop for a few years, said kids usually want everything
and grab the first thing they see.
Calob was different. Calob's toy search was interrupted
by a cart that needed to get by. He stepped back and
waved the cart on with his hand. After the cart passed,
he found another toy he liked but this one was $60.
Officer Johnson looked down at him and said, "This
toy might be too expensive, bud. We still have to buy
gifts for your family."
The 5-year-old simply responded "OK," and set the
toy back on the shelf.
Learning about money isn't the only thing these kids
gain. Sandgren said the biggest lesson kids take from
Shop With a Cop is that police officers and deputies
are the good guys. Some of these kids have had or could
have negative experiences with cops, Sandgren said,
and it's important for kids to know that experiences
with cops can be positive.
"When you start off in the morning, the kids kind
of tolerate the officer but by the end of the day, they
are all over them," she said.
Calob said he liked Officer Johnson because "he let
me get a lot of stuff." Calob stuck close to Officer
Johnson and ran down the aisles with him. When Officer
Johnson asked him what kind of sweatshirts his dad liked,
Calob said. "He likes ones with skeletons." Calob pointed
to a cop once and said, "There's a cop." When Officer
Johnson asked him what movies his mom liked, Calob said,
"The Incredible Hulk."
Eventually, the yellow bulldozer went back on the
shelf after Calob found a remote-controlled airplane.
He kept pushing the button inside the plastic casing
trying to see if the airplane could really fly out of
the box. Calob found another helicopter toy that he
wanted but decided later that blue was the best color
for that toy instead of red. Officer Johnson walked
him back to the toy aisle to exchange the colors. Calob
kept asking Officer Johnson, "What is your favorite
that I choose?"
When Calob lined up to pay, the cashier helped Calob
get his presents out of the cart. When she saw the remote-controlled
helicopter, she said, "Oh, cool, and then you can remember
how Santa flew in to see you."
Calob smiled at the cashier, looked off in the distance
as if he remembered Santa's helicopter drop this morning,
then smiled down at his toy. He asked Officer Johnson
if he could carry the toy instead of putting it back
in the cart. Calob carried his remote-controlled helicopter
to the wrapping center at the side of Kmart where it
was wrapped for his Christmas morning, a Christmas morning
that will be memorable because of the generosity of
residents around Cache Valley.