230 kids ‘Shop with a Cop’ for back-to-school clothes

INCLUDES JOYOUS VIDEO | Here’s the latest chapter in a heart-warming Back-to-School story we’ve covered for decades. See how this outer East Portland event has grown …

-1 Outside this Fred Meyer store, both law enforcement officers, youth and their parents, gather for this year’s Shop with a Cop for back-to-school..

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Shortly after dawn, on Wednesday morning, August 23, a line of kids and their parents had already formed around the south side of the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer store, on the southern edge of Southeast Portland. They were there for the return of the Sunshine Division’s Shop with a Cop prior to the opening of school for the fall. [See our story about the 2019 event: CLICK HERE.]

Law enforcement officers from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office – and even from the Beaverton Police Department – gathered in the large store’s Garden Center.

She’s glad to see Shop with a Cop keep growing over the years, says Fred Meyer Store Manager Amy Jacobs.

“It’s so good to see you, because you were here when – with PPB Officer Larry Graham, and after the Lents Boys and Girls Club received what was called a ‘Weed and Seed Grant’ – we used that grant for our first Shop with a Cop for schoolkids, here at this store, with 50 kids,” recalled Fred Meyer Store Manager Amy Jacobs. [See a photo of Amy Jacobs with then-Lt. Larry Graham in our 2011 story: CLICK HERE.]

Watch as hundreds of kids go on an all-paid shopping spree with law enforcement officers for back-to-school wardrobe:

“Fast-forward to today, where Fred Meyer is again partnering with law enforcement and the Sunshine Division to help 230 kids be ready to start school with new clothes, shoes and classroom supplies!” Jacobs told East Portland News.

“Continuing to be involved in Shop with a Cop is important to the mission of Fred Meyer, because we’re all about community; the grandparents and the parents of these young people here are both our neighbors and our customers,” Jacobs said.

Just before their briefing, officers gather for a “team photo” in the store’s Garden Center.

All smiles at the event was Sunshine Division Executive Director Kyle Camberg. He clarified for reporters that while his organization – which started in 1922, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year – was started as part of the PPB, it’s long since evolved into a free-standing 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. But, it still maintains a vital partnership with Portland Police.

Shop with a Cop is more than just getting kids prepared for school; it’s about connecting them, in a positive way, with our law enforcement community,” Camberg told us, just before the store’s doors opened.

This is his 12th Shop with a Cop he’s attended as Sunshine Division Executive Director, says Kyle Camberg.

“Over the years, more than 4,000 kids have been able to Shop with a Cop because of Fred Meyer, and other generous donors,” Camberg continued. “I don’t know how to place a value on 4,000 kids getting these special experiences, but I know it’s amazingly positive for them, and for their parents as well.”

Kids who participated in Shop with a Cop were selected based on their financial need, as identified by multiple agencies and organizations, he said.

Anticipation grows among the participants as the start of their shopping sprees approach.

Inside the entrance of the store during the briefing, PPB Chief of Police Chuck Lovell was one of several community leaders who greeted the participating officers.

“For us [as law enforcement officers], it seems like our opportunities to engage positively with youth these days are less and less and less,” Chief Lovell told the gathering.

Addressing the officers before the shopping begins, it’s PPB Chief of Police Chuck Lovell.

“To have an event like this, where we can help folks in our community get prepared for the school year – to come out, and really humanize our work, and let people get to see who we are – is super important,” Chief Lovell emphasized.

PPB Sergeant Hythum Ismail makes sure the kids in his charge get properly-sized back-to-school clothing.

Each child was paired with a “cop”, each of whom had a $150 gift card from Sunshine Division’s Izzy’s Kid’s Fund to pay for what the child selected.

In addition to a cash donation, Fred Meyer also offered significant discounts on the clothing that was purchased for the participating kids that morning.

The “youth clothing” area of this Fred Meyer store swirls with activity as Shop with a Cop is underway.

After shopping, the youngsters were provided with school supplies and toiletries, all loaded into a Columbia Sportswear-provided backpack.

Find out more about the Sunshine Division by visiting their website: CLICK HERE.

Keeping an eye out for good clothing styles and sale prices is PPB Officer Diana Rudakova.

>> On our Front Page: Going over this delighted kid’s list is Portland Police Bureau Cadet Officer Chaz Lavato.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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