BATAVIA — Area kids now have the presents they needed to find for their families, or at least for themselves, thanks to their time shopping at Walmart with local police officers or sheriff’s deputies.
Approximately 30 children were expected to take part in Saturday’s Shop with a Cop and any excess funds raised will be banked toward next year’s event. Each child was able to have his or her photo taken with Santa and go shopping with an officer.
Angelique Ayala, 7, of Rochester was shopping with Batavia Assistant Police Chief Christopher Camp. She said she was shopping for her and her brother. She said she was looking for baby gifts and also kids’ gifts for her. Angelique said shopping with an officer was helpful.
“Usually we get paired up with one,” Camp said. “All of us will get paired up with one — one or two children.”
Just then, Angelique put another gift in the shopping cart.
“Do you like that one? Alright!” Camp said to her.
Camp said police had $150 to spend per child.
“They were generous with our donations. A lot of people stepped up and got a lot of good donations, so that’s good,” he said. “We had social media posts that helped with generating funds. I think last year, we had $100 (per child).”
City Police Department Detective Eric Hill was shopping with Ivy Harper, 4. They had a shopping cart with a bunch of toys in it.
“We’ve got our toys. We’re ready to go,” Hill said as the two of them were walking out of the store to check out. Holding up one of the packages, he said, “We’ve got this nice doll, here. These are all for her.”
On their way out, the 4-year-old turned and said, “I got the fishy game I don’t have!”
“We’re excited about the fishy game. That was our first pick, wasn’t it?” Hill asked her. The girl had two sisters who were shopping with other officers.
Police Chief Shawn Heubusch was at the checkout counter with Serenity Demmer, 9, of Batavia, who found some toys for herself.
“We did OK, didn’t we, Serenity?” Heubusch asked her while getting the items from the cart.
“I might share one of the toys,” she said.
Le Roy Officer Kaden Vangalia was waiting in line with Lucas Barber-Callan, 8. Lucas was there with his twin brother, Beau Barber-Callan, and another brother, Eugene Besok. They were at Walmart with their mom, Emilie Barber.
Barber said the kids found everything they needed.
“They had a lot of fun,” she said.
Officer Sean Ancker, who went shopping with Eugene, said, “We traveled the whole store … everywhere besides the deli.”
Eugene said he got something for his brothers and dog.
“Next time, I’m going to focus on getting me some nice clothes, maybe,” he mused.
“I got this for Beau and Luke … We’re just sharing, so we can all play,” he said, holding up an item.
City Officer and one of the Batavia City School District’s school resource officers, Miah Stevens, has given time to Shop with a Cop for three or four years.
“They basically get to go around, pick out their own stuff and get whatever they want for Christmas,” she said. “Today (Saturday) went really well. I thought it was successful. It seemed like we have some happy kids. We have lots os carts up front (in the checkout line).
“It’s a great thing. It’s probably one of the most fun programs we do on both the kids’ side and the cops’ side. It’s very enjoyable,” Stevens said. “It’s relationship-building. If you’re not a school resource officer, you don’t get a chance to really talk to the kids every day and get to know them. It kind of just gives you a prolonged exposure to each other, which is always good.”
The Batavia Police Department held the eighth annual Shop with a Cop in collaboration with the LeRoy Police Department and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.
Walmart, H.E. Turner & Company, Inc., the Batavia Police Benevolent Association, Civil Service Employee Association (CSEA), the Bonarigo and McCutcheon law office and other members of the community contributed donations.