Shop with a Cop continues to evolve
This holiday season some Red Wing youths will get the gift of giving.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to be thinking about giving to others,” said Katie Bystrom, Y-Pals coordinator for the Red Wing Family YMCA.
The program started with 10 children four years ago, said Red Wing Police Officer Adam Crane, who has been running the program since its inception.
“It’s a great program and I love the way that it’s evolved,” Crane said.
Each youth — they range from elementary school to high school age — will receive $125 to shop at Wal-Mart, Crane said.
The kids also will bring home a bag of groceries, Crane said, which is something they started in the last couple years, and includes some essentials like turkey, potatoes, bread and milk.
Aside from the presents and food, it’s nice for the children to have a positive experience with law enforcement, Bystrom said.
“It’s truly about getting to know one another and understanding what’s going on,” she said.
Many times the police have had contact with the children on a professional level, Crane said, whether it’s with their parents, brothers, sisters or sometimes even the kids themselves.
“It’s nice for them to see us in a positive light,” he agreed, adding that officers really want the kids to know they are there to help.
Crane said emergency vehicles will be on hand for the kids to tour after the shopping is done.
How it comes together
Y-Pals works with the Red Wing School District, Red Wing Police Department and HOPE Coalition to identify youths who would benefit from participation in a program like this, Bystrom said.
This year Wal-Mart Corp., Noontime Kiwanis, the Fraternal Order of the Police Riverview Lodge 7 and the Red Wing Police Benevolent Association have all contributed so each child gets $125 for shopping and close to $50 in groceries, she said.
“It’s nice. If you go out there on Saturday you’re not just going to see Red Wing Police uniforms,” Crane said.
Zumbrota police and Prairie Island police will be just a couple of the other law enforcement agencies participating. Bystrom said community members help wrap presents and get the food bags together.
Every year new families participate in the program, Crane said, so the same families aren’t participating every year.
The program really is a community effort, he said, with many community organizations coming together for a common goal.