The clothes make the kid.
That was the idea behind the second annual “Shop With a Cop” event at JC Penney’s on Saturday morning in Norfolk.
Eight school-age children met with area law enforcement officers to do a little shopping before classes start back up in a few weeks.
Five of the students are living in the Bright Horizons crisis shelter in Norfolk and three were referred by The Zone afterschool program.
All were identified as having a need, and Penney’s manager Gary Munyer wanted to help out.
“I started this event last year. When I was younger, we didn’t have any money, so my aunt took me shopping for school clothes. It felt so good — it gives you confidence to have new clothes. I wanted to do something like that for the kids around here,” Munyer said.
Each of the eight children was paired with a law enforcement officer and given $200 in gift cards to the store. The officers and the children all seemed to be smiling and having a good time.
Another goal of the Shop With a Cop event was to foster a feeling of trust between the children and law enforcement, so they feel comfortable approaching authority in a time of need.
Dustin Nutsch, a trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol, was rewarded with a hug from the small boy he was helping to shop.
“Doing this was awesome. I’ve never gotten to do something like this before, and it was really neat to be a part of it,” Nutsch said.
Law enforcement officers from the Madison and Stanton County Sheriff’s Offices and the Wayne Police Department also took part in the event.
Munyer said the $1,600 for the children’s gift cards was raised through grants from the Norfolk Kiwanis and from the JC Penney corporate office. Munyer’s associates also raised money to support the children, he said.
“It’s a little bigger than last year, and we were able to help more kids this year. The more money we raise, the more kids we can help,” Munyer said.
Besides buying new clothes, the children involved were also fed lunch and given a free haircut — if they wanted one.
“We’re going to do this every year. It’s the perfect time of year to get new clothes for these kids who really need it,” Munyer said.