20th annual Shop with a Cop, Shop with a Firefighter was one for the books

Published: Dec. 20, 2019 at 7:26 PM AKST
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For 20 years, Anchorage Cops for Community and The Anchorage Fire Fighters Local 1264 have been putting on Shop with a Cop, Shop with a Fire Fighter. This time around, it was a particularly special event.

Shop with a Cop, Shop with a Fire Fighter is a chance for first responders to serve the community when there isn’t an emergency. Children from local shelters go to Fred Meyer via limousine, get paired with either a police officer or firefighter, and go on a shopping spree to give them some extra Christmas cheer.

According to Capt. Jason Dolph with the fire department, this year was the biggest yet.

“We’ve gone from having 15 kids from one shelter to 50,” he said comparing this year to the first, “and we’ve had the biggest amount of participation that we’ve ever had.”

Normally, APD and AFD have $100 they raise to shop for the kids plus a $25 gift card from Fred Meyer supplied by the company. This year, Fred Meyer doubled it to $50 and gave the first responders as many discounts as they possibly could.

That’s not all that made this year special. Before all the kids showed up, the entire group of volunteers took time to recognize Officer Lisa Whitmore.

The organizers this year said Officer Whitmore was the heart and soul of this event for a long time. She spearheaded Shop with a Cop, Shop with a Firefighter for years. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer in March.

After speeches filled with kind words and a moment to appreciate the unity between the two apartments she helped facilitate they renamed the whole event after her.

Officer Jonathan Butler knew Officer Whitmore well, and began to help organize the event a lot more this year.

“Her heart was into this project, her heart was for the kids,” he said, “to not have her at this event has really just left this sense of loss, but we were able to honor her and her husband and her kids who were here which was awesome. We’ve done this for 20 years and for 20 more plus years Lisa will be forever remembered.”

One of the kids shopping was Nick Tetrault from the Valley, who had a mission to find the perfect set of Hot Wheels toys. He wanted them to be big.

“I’ve got a lot of brothers and sisters,” he said, “that’s why I want the ultimate garage so I can bring it back with me and we can play with that like all day long.”

He wasn’t the only child who was spending this Christmas shopping trip on others according to Dolph.

“When they go out shopping, they’re not just picking stuff for themselves, every one of them wants to make sure that their brothers and sisters and family are taken care of,” he said.

After all the shopping was done, teams of volunteers wrapped every single present to be sent home with the kids on the limo. Before they left, all the kids got the chance to check out one of the SWAT trucks in the parking lot and slide down on the 1264’s custom made fire engine complete with reindeer, a slide, and Santa Claus himself.