This year Middleburg Heights Patrol Officers Andrew Belzer, Nick McCoy and Steve Stervagi participated in The Shop with a Cop annual event, held on Saturday, December 13, 2014.
This was the first year Middleburg Heights was involved and the officers felt fortunate to collaborate with the FOP Lodge 67 who has had 19 years experience participating.
Middleburg Heights, Chief of Police, John Maddox said, “I admire these officers for taking the initiative to take part in this program. Not only did they connect with the children that they shopped with, but there was positive interaction with the entire community while selling raffle tickets to raise funds to purchase the $150.00 money gift card. So the big picture is… this was a trust building endeavor for the entire community.”
The Shop with a Cop program is an attempt to pair the disadvantaged with a police officer and have them experience a positive situation, such as shopping for Christmas presents. Middleburg Heights officers said it was a great bonding experience for not only the kids, but for the entire Police Department.
The event started at the Middleburg Heights Police Station where all three children, two kindergarteners and one first grader, paired with our officers. They first were given a tour of the police station. Afterwards, they were off to join their colleagues in Bedford where a long procession of police cars with sirens and flashing blue and red lights continued all the way to Wal-Mart in Macedonia. Santa Claus anxiously waited for their arrival.
When they arrived each child was given a $150 gift card and surprisingly, all three kids shopped for their family members first, then themselves! After shopping they joined with all involved and had a great big pizza party.
Officers and kids learned a great deal from each other during this great event.
“I felt like we really connected with the kids we shopped with, watching their faces and expressions throughout the day was maybe the best part. Knowing that we made a significant difference and impact made us all very happy. Not only was it a good thing to do, it was also very fun,” said Patrolman Belzer.
The entire Middleburg Heights Police Department was in one way or another involved with this event. The Police Department also had the support of Mayor Gary W. Starr and all members of city council. Each officer came on his own time and raised the funds for each card so they could share this special time with the kids. The entire event is funded with donations.