Children searched the aisles at the Cedar City Walmart last week for Barbies, Nerf guns and even basic bedding items with a member of the emergency air ambulance company by their side.
More than 100 other boys and girls hunted for toys, games and presents to fill their shopping carts with help from officers, firemen and other volunteers from several departments for the annual “Shop with a Cop” event that serves kids from Iron County, Beaver, Garfield and Kane County.
Abby Holmgren, a flight nurse from Classic Air Medical, volunteered to join a little girl on her quest for barbies, my little ponies and dollhouses.
“My little girl was so excited about Barbies and my little ponies and dollhouses, we were finished shopping in about 10 minutes,” Holmgren said.
Santa Claus, Walmart employees in elf costumes and greeted the children and waved as they rode into the parking lot with officers and firefighters in department vehicles. The recruits from the local police academy helped the kids — who were given $100 gift cards — and their shopping partners from the county, state and other area police and fire departments. “And, of course, the kids have the memory of a lifetime.”
Pilot Owen Park and paramedic Ray Hall recalled many boys and girls shopping for standard popular gift items while the little boy they accompanied shopped for sheets and a pillow because he didn’t have a bed at home and sleeps on a pad on the floor.
“(The event) just kind of makes a difference in these kids’ Christmas, and we want to be a part of that,” Park said.
“I love the way Ray and Owen handled this. They became this little boy’s friend and made the day a positive and happy experience with no humiliation or judgment, just compassion and sharing. Also very cool Star Wars sheets,” Holmgren said. He wanted to stay with Ray and Owen as long as he could even after shopping.
In addition to the gift card, the kids are provided with a shoe voucher to be able to get a pair of shoes. “I’d like to thank all of the sponsors who made this happen. A lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of people put in a lot of time in to make this happen,” Hall said.