CLARKSVILLE, IN (December 12, 2021) – Traditionally if you want to avoid crowds at Walmart, 7:00am on a Sunday morning would be a great time to shop. That was not the case on Sunday as more than a dozen Clarksville Police Officers roamed the aisles of the local Supercenter. Accompanied by family members, volunteers, and a few Clarksville Firefighters, the police officers represented the local Fraternal Order of Police for the annual “Shop with a Cop” program.
“I started it 35 years ago over at value city,” said Shirley Makowsky, Secretary for the FOP. “We took 10 children, and spent one-hundred dollars on each one of them, which back then, that was big. Now we’re up to helping 75-100 children each year, spending at least three-hundred dollars on each one.”
Each year, the Clarksville Police Department accepts applications from Clarksville residents who may need a helping hand around Christmas. Residents either apply for the program at the police station, or they are referred by police officers who meet them while on a call in their neighborhood. This year, officers were able to shop for 70 kids from the local community. FOP Secretary Shirley Makowski has been leading the program for 35 years, and she says the officers enjoy ‘Shop with a Cop’ day as much as the kids.
“We have officers that have been doing this for years and years, and bringing their families with them. I love it, its all about the kids.”
Although kids are invited to purchase a few toys, the purpose of the program is to provide them with the necessities for the winter season. Parents wait out in the parking lot while the kids shop, but they make sure to send a list with the child’s needs and clothing sizes. By focusing on the kids’ needs, parents are then able to focus on buying what the kids want for Christmas.
The Clarksville FOP works to collect funds for the program all year long, but this year they received two big donations of $5,000 each from the ClarkFEST ‘Run for the Kids’ 5K, as well as Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and Winner’s Circle OTB.
“Walmart has been a big, great partner with us helping us out here,” said Assistant Police Chief David Kirby. “The community has been extremely incredible with their donations, all the support we’ve been given, this is great.”
Assistant Police Chief David Kirby says not only do these kids get to go home with toys and clothes, but they also get to meet and get to know his officers in a positive environment.
“Most the time when some of these kids get to see us, its not the best circumstances. There’s been a family issue or something going on in the neighborhood. For us to come in here now and just be on our terms and their terms and have a good time together, its one of those enjoyable times,” said Assistant Chief Kirby. “You get a chance to give back besides trying to help out when you’re on a call, but to come in under good circumstances, and they’re excited, you’re excited, you get to shop with them see them be happy, see them get to take their stuff home, it just makes it worth it.”
Kirby says his officers look forward to meeting new kids each year, since the program makes an effort to select new families each Christmas.
“Its hard to explain the look on their face unless you see it, just how excited they are to be here doing it, its just been more enjoyable this year. Plus my kids are grown, so to get to do this with young kids, and see that gleam in their eyes again, makes it all worth it because they forget when they get older (laughs).”
In total, this year’s “Shop with a Cop” program benefited 70 Clarksville kids, with estimated expenses of more than $21,000. If you would like to donate to next year’s “Shop with a Cop” program, or if you would like to apply to be a participant, visit the Clarksville Police Department Headquarters located at 1970 Broadway Street in Clarksville.