For almost 30 years, the Grand Junction Police Department has looked forward to December and the promise of our annual Shop with a Cop program. For decades, we have enjoyed spending the day with local fifth graders who shop for their families and build relationships with local law enforcement, all made possible through the generosity of so many in our community.
This year, as with so many other things, we’ve had to adjust our expectations.
The Grand Junction Police Department is committed to doing our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our staff and our community healthy. Therefore, to limit exposure to illness, Shop with a Cop will not look the same as it has in years past. Rather than gathering a group of kids and taking them to local businesses, we will use those funds to purchase donations for Toys for Tots, a non-profit organization that we’ve supported for many years. We want to ensure that children in our community have gifts under their trees this Christmas, and it’s anticipated that the need will be great this year. For the first time this year, Toys for Tots has partnered with the Salvation Army, to expand their reach and ensure needs are met.
“This year has been especially difficult for families in Mesa County and around the world,” says Monica Million, the spokeswoman for the Mesa County Toys for Tots program. “We rely heavily on partnerships like we have with the Grand Junction Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to ensure that we can accomplish our mission of providing positive memories for kids in our community.”
In addition to the annual Toys for Tots donation drive that our SWAT team will host at the Mesa Mall on Saturday, December 5th, this year officers will shop for gifts for young people of all ages in our community to donate to Toys for Tots, using funds that would normally be earmarked for Shop with a Cop. These funds come from generous donations from partners like the Grand Junction Fraternal Order of Police, the Mesa County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Crime Stoppers of Mesa County, and the fundraising efforts of Moose Country radio.
While we relish the chance to put a smile on the faces of kids in our community by purchasing gifts, we know it’s not just about toys this year. That’s why we’ve chosen to make an additional donation to the Community Food Bank of Grand Junction, to further help families in need. Already in 2020, the Food Bank has provided well over 300,000 meals to families and individuals in our community, and that need will grow over the holidays.
We’re hopeful that we will be able to resume the beloved tradition of Shop with a Cop next year, as the time spent with kids in our community is every bit as valuable as the material items they end the day with. However, we are steadfast in making the hard decisions required to help keep Grand Junction safe and healthy.
To learn more about how you can support Toys for Tots and the Community Food Bank of Grand Junction, please visit their websites.