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Kids in need Shop with a Cop
ARLINGTON Close to three dozen area families received support from regional law enforcement, military members, businesses and other organizations during the Fraternal Order of Polices fourth-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. 16, 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 Jonathan Wells 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.
Wells elaborated that the program began in Snohomish County with only five families in 2003 but has since expanded to the point that it may nearly double its target of 20 families for 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.
Parents such as Mary Hanke came from as far away as Lake Stevens to provide some seasonal cheer for her children. Hankes husband has undergone a series of surgeries to correct work-related injuries, the most recent Dec. 6, which meant that her eight-year-old daughter Alysha knew there wasnt going to be a lot of money for Christmas gifts this year, so she wasnt even asking, until their family was signed up for Shop with a Cop.
I feel overwhelmed, Hanke said, thanking those who had contributed their time, finances and efforts to the event. This will be a Christmas that these children will never forget.
Arlington resident Rodney Hinds, whose 12-year-old son Dillon got comfortable in the passenger seat of a military police vehicle from Naval Station Everett, stoically summarized the holiday season as a really rough time of year for us, since his wifes extended battle with cancer resulted in her husband and son spending Christmas in the hospital with her last year. Hinds wife passed away four months later, and his sons grandmother died of a heart attack at the funeral.
As a single parent, you cant live like youd like to, said Hinds, who lost his job while his wife was in the hospital. This gives my son an opportunity to get into the holiday spirit, after all hes lost.
Arlington resident Anneliese 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 a year and a half ago, and with seven and a half 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, whos expecting 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.
Sponsors of Fraternal Order of Police Puget Sound Lodge 15 fourth-annual Shop with a Cop program for Snohomish County Dec. 16:
Arlington: Arlington Police Officers Association, Arlington Police Employees Fund, Support 46, Haggen Food and Pharmacy, Angel of the Winds Casino, La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant and Dwayne Lanes Chrysler-Jeep-Suzuki.
Marysville: Washington State Patrol Troopers Association and Fred Meyer.
Stanwood: Pearson Financial Services, Inc.
Lake Stevens: Target.
Lynnwood: John L. Scott.