Tacoma Police spread holiday cheer with the annual 'Shop With A Cop'

For the first time since the pandemic started, Tacoma Police continued with its holiday tradition, Shop With A Cop.

The event this year was hosted by Walmart, and officers took children in the community to pick out holiday gifts. 

Children ages seven to 11 are recommended for participation in the program by referrals from Tacoma Police Department members and Tacoma School employees, according to TPD. 

Each officer who participated mostly relied on their own money to pay for the gifts. 

"We get some donations from the community, but I would say 95% of this event is funded from officers. We do payroll deductions every pay check to give a little bit of money and we’ve been able to fund this completely through the Officer's Fund," said officer and president of the Shopping Cop Board, Zach Spangler. 

It takes all year to plan this event, but for Spangler, it's more than just Christmas gifts.

"It’s just a great opportunity to provide Christmas for people who might not have anything," Spangler said. "[A] great opportunity to give back to the community to help somebody out."

"My favorite part is [the kids] buy for everybody but themselves, and it just makes me tear up every year," said officer Elizabeth Schieferdecker, who participated this year. "We have one rule: they have to buy something for themselves because a lot of them don’t. They want to shop for everybody but themselves." 

As a part of Saturday's festivities, kids also got to take a picture with Santa and participate in toy giveaways. Free blankets were also given out. 

This was the second time this week that kids got to participate in Shop With A Cop. 

For Chief Avery Moore, who participated in an earlier event, this holiday season is all about appreciating what we have and sharing it with others.

"We all donate, you know, myself included, because we want the kids to be able to enjoy their life and their holiday season," Moore said. [It's] really about love and it’s about family and it’s about friends and all those things that sometimes we take for granted."