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Blessing lives with Shop with a Cop — even during the pandemic

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many holiday traditions in 2020 — but for some these challenges are an opportunity to carry on in a different way.

That’s been the case with the Shop with a Cop programs in eastern Idaho. Each Christmas, several groups of law enforcement agencies get together to bless the lives of children and their families.

For the past 25 years, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, and Idaho State Probation and Parole have come together to help kids who have been exposed to abusive situations.

Typically, the event starts with breakfast and a parade of police cars across town with the kids in charge of the radio, lights and sirens. Officers and deputies then go shopping with the kids to get gifts for every member of their families. The event is topped off by a visit from Santa.

This year however, due to current COVID-19 restrictions, adjustments had to be made.

“Kids who are part of this come from abusive situations, situations that happen regardless of whether or not there’s a pandemic,” Bonneville County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Bryan Lovell said. “So having the opportunity to bring something positive, something that takes away (some) of their worries, is important to continue with.”

Lovell said he hopes the event was just as meaningful this year.

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This year, law enforcement went to the children.

Volunteers from the Ammon Target Store, Idaho Falls Civitans and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center gathered shopping lists and information on 21 child participates. They spent the past week shopping, wrapping presents, and assembling stocking and gift bags for the kids and their families.

On Saturday, teams of officers and volunteers made individual deliveries to kids and their families all across Bonneville County, Idaho Falls, Ammon and Iona.

Some of these excited kids got to explore the inside of cop cars, work the lights and sirens and have a photo opportunity at their homes with the officers, despite the cold morning temperatures.

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Even though this year was different, the Christmas spirit was there as officers bonded with the children they were helping.

“Shop with a Cop is an event that our officers look forward to every year,” Idaho Falls Police spokeswoman Jessica Clements said. “In a year that has been hard for so many people, I think we all needed some joy. We’re glad we could adapt and make it happen for these families and our officers.”

In addition to the large event in Idaho Falls, many of the Upper Valley law enforcement agencies gathered in Rexburg Saturday for a similar event and deliveries to children and families in need. See the following social media gallery below.