It was a merry and bright morning when the West Valley Mavericks Foundation kicked off its first-ever Shop with a Cop event for Dysart Unified School District students Saturday, Dec. 5, at Kohl’s, 14020 W. Bell Road in Surprise.
A second event for Cartwright school district students is scheduled Tuesday morning at Kohl’s in Tolleson.
Nine officers with the Surprise Police Department joined Mavericks member Chris Eastburn, a reserve officer with the Phoenix Police Department, who organized the event on behalf of the Litchfield Park-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves communities across the West Valley.
Each officer and a Mavericks member paired up to escort two students through the store to shop for Christmas gifts for their families. Everyone followed COVID-19 safety protocols, wearing masks and social distancing.
“We did two rounds with the kids,” Officer Eastburn said via telephone Monday. In all, 42 students shopped during the event. Another 50 are expected to shop Tuesday.
Each child was given $150 to shop for gifts, courtesy of the Mavericks. They also were treated to breakfast provided by Chick-Fil-A, and volunteers fortified themselves for the spree with coffee provided by Gathered Grounds.
“We are so grateful to the West Valley Mavericks Foundation for partnering with us on this event,” Dysart Communications and Public Relations Director Renee Ryon said via email Monday. “Partnerships like these are a tremendous support for our community, and we appreciate the generosity of all who supported this effort.”
Escorts were armed with spreadsheets listing students’ family members’ likes as well as their clothing and shoe sizes. Also assisting were Kohl’s staff and 10 volunteers from the store, who helped the young shoppers scour the aisles for gifts.
When they were done shopping, the students were greeted by more volunteers at tables outside the store provided by Surprise Rentals. Volunteers wrapped each gift in festive paper while the students signed gift tags.
Officer Eastburn, a 15-year reserve officer who donates 700 to 800 hours a year as a beat officer in Phoenix’s Cactus Park precinct, has participated in Shop with a Cop events in the past, but this was his first time organizing an event.
“I would chalk it up to being a huge success,” he said, noting the Mavericks initially expected to host 20 children during the event but quickly adjusted when more than 40 arrived.
Surprise Mayor Skip Hall, who attended with Councilmembers Patrick Duffy, Jack Hastings and Nancy Hayden, agreed.
“I am grateful to the West Valley Mavericks for partnering with our Surprise Police Department this year with their Shop with a Cop event. The event was absolutely fantastic and I’m hoping we continue to have it on an annual basis,” Mr. Hall said via email Monday. “I was honored to witness the shopping experience and camaraderie between our police officers and kids!”
For more photos of the event, visit the event page on Dysart Unified School District’s website.
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or 760-963-1697.