The October 2022 Mercer Savings Bank Giving Mission recipient is the Celina Police Department’s Shop With a Cop program, sponsored through the Grand Lake Law Enforcement Association. The program helps foster positive relations between kids and law enforcement and provides kids with a Christmas they might not otherwise have.
About Shop With a Cop
In December, uniformed police personnel throughout Mercer County take kids from the area shopping, each with a budget provided through donations.
“Most, if not all, of the kids that we help would not have a Christmas at all without the program,” said Celina Police Chief Tom Wale.
Any child under the age of 18 in Mercer County is eligible to participate. Children are typically identified for the program with help from a local food bank. The program has grown from four to five kids in its first year in 2015 to approximately 40 in 2021.
The goal is to have around the same number this year, with a budget of $150-$200 for each child to spend.
“With inflation hitting us so hard this year, we’re trying to make sure the kids have enough to spend,” said Wale. “The community has been so good with stepping up with giving.”
Kids are free to purchase any items they would like when they shop, although the officers encourage them to buy at least one thing they need, like shoes, and one thing they want, like a toy or game.
Giving to Shop With a Cop
Community members have several options for giving to the program.
- Call: Contact Chief Tom Wale at 419-586-2345.
- Send a check: Write the check to Grand Lake Law Enforcement Association (GLLEA), include “Mercer County Shop With a Cop” in the memo line, and mail it to P.O. Box 262, Celina, OH 45822-0262.
Wale said nearly every officer who participates in the program does so because they genuinely enjoy the interaction and chance to positively impact a child.
“Most of our people, they’ll come in voluntarily. They don’t necessarily do it because they’re getting a paycheck,” he said. “You’re able to help somebody out by giving a little bit of your time and bring some enjoyment to some people knowing that they really need a break.
“In law enforcement, you see so much of the negative. You have to be able to see the positive side of it,” he added. “This is something that we can do that honestly makes us feel good.”