‘Shop with a Cop’ gives needy kids superior school sendoff

Learn why police officers take their day off to help disadvantaged youth become well-equipped for school right here …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs helps Douglas Murphy look sharp for the start of his 5th grade at Earl Boyles Elementary in the David Douglas School District.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Early in the morning, just before school started this year on August 29, we are present to see a large contingent of Portland Police Bureau officers gathering in front of the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer store on S.E. 82nd. The cops were coming by, on their day off, to help disadvantaged kids in Southeast get back-to-school clothing and supplies which their families could not otherwise afford.

Unlike many charitable programs, these kids have earned the right to participate in this officer-guided shopping spree, says Southeast Precinct Sgt. Larry Graham. He should know. Graham has helped direct the interagency “Shop with a Cop” program since its inception five years ago.

Event coordinators Portland Police Bureau SE Precinct Sgt. Larry Graham, Amy Jacobs, Asst Store Manager, Fred Meyer, and Nick Sauvie, ROSE Community Development, after they brief officers about the event.

“These kids have earned the right to participate,” Graham explains. “These kids, from the Boys & Girls Clubs and ROSE CDC, have participated in our GREAT program, and have provided community service. They’ve done a lot of good things for the community.”

From the police bureau’s standpoint, the event is a good opportunity for officers to connect with kids in a positive way. “These kids often have difficult home lives,” Graham comments, “today; they get to spend time with a police officer in a situation other than an emergency or catastrophe.”

Officer Jeff Pontius, SE Precinct NET team helps 7th grader Bryce Loudon get clothes he needs for school.

SE Precinct officer Rachael Strobel helps Maria and Gorethy Sandoval get new clothes for school.

Another great partner of the program is retailer Fred Meyer. “Through our partnerships, we have grown this program,” says store manager Amy Jacobs, also one of the event’s founders. “Fred Meyer adds to the program every year. This year, along with their new clothes, we’re giving each child a backpack, with school supplies and umbrellas.”

Asked why a mass merchandiser, owned by a national company, participates in this program, Jacobs tells us, “We’ve long been part of the community, and community service is how we show our appreciation for our neighbors’ support. And, these kids are our future shoppers and associates!”

A happy Capt. Chris Uehara, formerly of East Precinct, now at Family Services Division, helps Kevin Nguien choose school clothing.

Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE CDC tells us why their organization continues to be involved in the program – this year, serving 100 children. “It’s not easy for disadvantaged kids to start school wearing ragged clothes, and not having even the most basic school supplies. Providing them with the basics will probably help them do better in school.”

Sauvie adds that their organization plays two roles in the event. “We provide part of the funding and recruit residents from affording housing to participate.”

JJ Baker gets a trim from Shara Atterton, manager Johnson Creek Great Clips.

We ask one young “shopper” how he’s enjoying the event. Smiling ear to ear, he says, “This is really fun. I didn’t know cops could be so cool!”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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