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Zion Police And School District Team Up To Spread Holiday Cheer And Show Kids Another Side Of Officers With Annual ‘Shop With A Cop’ Event

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Some view the police in a negative light these days. That’s one of the motivations behind an upcoming “Shop With A Cop” event in north suburban Zion.

Morning Insider Tim McNicholas explains it’s a chance to show kids another side of the police, while also spreading holiday cheer.

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If mid-November is too soon for Christmas spirit, 6-year-old Jayden Edwards didn’t get the memo.

Jayden will soon join Zion police officers for their annual Shop With a Cop event at Walmart.

He’s so excited, he donned his police hat and handcuffs as he got a sneak peek at the aisles this week.

“It brings some joy,” said his mother, Amy Ratcliff. “I’m a single mom. It’s just me and my little one. It’s good to know there’s people there that’s helping us, and these are cops that I see in the community all the time.”

The plan is to give about 40 families $100 to spend on December 4th.

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Many kids have their eyes on the hottest new toys, but that’s not always at the top of the list. Sometimes the shoppers are more interested in necessities than the fun stuff.

“This one young lady, she asked me if she could buy a toothbrush,” said Tara Thomas, an administrator with the local school district that helps organize the event. “I said, ‘Okay sure, that’s all you want for your mom?’ She said, ‘My mother doesn’t have a toothbrush, and she doesn’t have towels. Can we please get my mom a towel?’”

Thomas said the need is high as families recover from the financial hardships of a pandemic. The goal is simple: make the holidays memorable for the kids.

“Jayden is autistic, and he needs help and support, not only from me but from the community,” his mother said.

But the kids aren’t the only ones making memories.

“One the favorite things that I enjoy most is interacting with the kids, and being part of this celebration this joyous time of year,” Zion Police Chief Eric Barden said.

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Organizers say fundraising hasn’t been easy. If you’d like to donate so they can help even more families, you can donate to the Coalition For Healthy Communities online, and specify your donation is for the Shop With A Cop program.