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Kids in need Shop with a Cop
ARLINGTON Close to four-dozen area families received support from regional law enforcement, military members, businesses and other organizations, during the Fraternal Order of Polices fifth-annual Shop with a Cop program in Snohomish County.
The Arlington Haggen Food and Pharmacy store served as the staging grounds for the event Dec. 8, as members of FOP Puget Sound Lodge 15 and military police from Naval Station Everett were paired off with local kids in need, giving the youngsters tours of their duty vehicles before driving them out to nearby stores that took part in sponsoring the event, such as Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart, for holiday shopping sprees of $100 per child.
Arlington Police Officer Anthony Davis explained that the event targets the working poor, people who are living from paycheck to paycheck, as well as children with special needs and families which either began as single-parent households or recently lost a parent.
Davis elaborated that the program began in Snohomish County with only five families in 2003, but has since expanded to benefit more than 40 children this year, referred by community groups such as neighborhood churches and social service agencies, among them the Salvation Army and the Arlington-based Support 46.
Arlington mother Sharee Petersen was so overwhelmed with emotion that she wept with joy at finding a way to provide some seasonal cheer for her family. Petersens husband Bill has only recently regained employment, after job-hunting without luck for months, and Sharee herself can no longer work due to health issues.
I have cancer, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, said Sharee, wiping tears from her eyes as she embraced Bill and 9-year-old daughter Jessica. It felt like we were playing catch-up. This has been such a blessing to us.
For Kimberly Llewelyn, Shop with a Cop was her first trip back to Arlington since her husband died in an industrial accident in town Nov. 26. The shopping excursion lifted the spirits of their children, 11-year-old Connor, 13-year-old Alex and 18-year-old Michael.
Were all buying for each other, plus our dads three step-kids, said Michael, who graduated from high school this year. He was worried about making sure we could still celebrate the holidays on our budget, so its great to see people are willing to help out. Its still a rollercoaster for our mom, so Ill probably be staying in Washington for a while to make sure shes okay.
Arlington resident Annelese Bennett still has her spouse by her side, but her husband has been trying to make a go of being self-employed since he was laid off more than two years ago, and with eight children in their family, stocking-stuffers were the least of their concerns.
I told the kids, Our gift to you this year is going to have to be the house, said Bennett, who gave birth to her eighth child in June. Before all this, we werent even planning on going shopping, because we were busy putting a roof over their heads. They understood, though, and have helped out a lot. No matter how hard it gets, you have to have faith that things will work out. Even if you think your help doesnt make that much of a difference to others, trust me, it does.
The sponsors of Fraternal Order of Police Puget Sound Lodge 15 fifth-annual Shop with a Cop program for Snohomish County Dec. 8 included the Arlington, Lake Stevens, Granite Falls and Stillaguamish Tribal Police Departments, the Washington State Patrol, Support 46, the Tulalip Tribes, Haggen Food and Pharmacy, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer and Target.