The deadline is fast approaching to nominate a child for the 11th annual Shop with A Cop.
Sponsored by the Cape Coral Police Department's Do The Right Thing program, the event enables officers to spend some positive one-on-one time with local at-risk children whose families are having financial difficulties. Every year, approximately 40 students are selected to participate in the event.
"The program not only enhances the holiday for the students, but strengthens a much needed link between officers and youth," Joy Nyack, CCPD community outreach projects coordinator, said. "It enforces the positive outlook we want to give students regarding cops, that they're there to help."
The participating youth will be picked up by a police officer at about 8 a.m. Dec. 23 and taken to breakfast at the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery on Del Prado Boulevard, South. Afterward, the students are escorted to the nearby Walmart and given a gift card to spend on themselves and their family.
Each student receives the following allowance for their holiday shopping:
- $50 for the shopper to spend on their self
- $20 for each sibling older than 8 and adult in the household
- $15 for each sibling between the ages of 1 and 7
- $10 for each infant in the household
Once the officers help the students select and purchase the gifts, the pairs head back to police headquarters to wrap the items. The students are treated to a pizza lunch before going home.
"Everyone who has done the program speaks very highly about it," Nyack said.
It is one application per family, as the names and ages of all family members are included.
"One of those kids will shop for the other (family) members," she said.
To qualify for the program:
- The child must be available to shop Dec. 23.
- The child and family must reside in Cape Coral.
- The child must be in kindergarten through 12th grade.
- The child must be eligible for "free lunch" at school.
Nomination forms are available at police headquarters, at 1100 Cultural Park Blvd., and online at: capecops.com/programs-services/shop-with-a-cop. They can be mailed or dropped off.
The mailing address is Cape Coral Police Department, 1100 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33990, Attn: Shop with a Cop.
The deadline to nominate a child for Shop with a Cop is Monday.
"If I don't have 40 by then, and someone gives me one the next day, we'll take it," Nyack said.
Families selected to participant in the program will be notified by Nov. 27.
As of Thursday, the department had received 25 nominations.
The total did not include the forms being gathered at the Cape Coral Caring Center.
"They're collecting on that side," she said, adding that families are free to visit the Cape center to fill out and submit their nomination form. "Last time I went, I picked up 13 of them."
The center is aiming to help sign up new participants.
"They're trying to get people to fill out the application that this is their first time doing it," Nyack said. "So it's not the same kids over and over again."
For more information on Shop with a Cop or nominating a child, call 239-242-3342 or visit: capecops.com/programs-services/shop-with-a-cop.