Twenty-six area youth partnered up with 52 Kingston police officers to get a little Christmas shopping done.
It’s part the annual Shop with a Cop youth outreach program, which is aimed at students in grades 7 and 8.
Const. Ashley Jackson organized the one-day event and says the program lets the students see another side to policing and police officers themselves.
“People call when they’re having crisis, trauma, emergencies, so it’s really nice to get out and bridge that gap between police and community,” Jackson said.
Each of the youth are given a gift card worth $200 that can be used at the Cataraqui Centre.
Staff Sgt. Lillian Murdock paired up with 12-year-old Brooklynn Cartwraitt for the day’s shopping excursion.
This is the first year Murdock has had the opportunity to participate in Shop with a Cop, and the officer says she likes the program.
“You know, I think Brooklynn’s gotten a chance to know me, that I’m a mom,” Murdock said.
“I’m just like her mom and so it’s been a really great chance.”
Jackson says Kingston police work with area schools to establish a list of students that could benefit from the program.
“The schools seem to know the kids the best,” Jackson said. “They spend the most time with them and get to know their backgrounds.”
Participating students can also be nominated by friends, family or neighbours.
Another part of qualifying for the limited spots is that students have to write a short essay.
For 2019, the theme is what they’ve done to be on Santa’s nice list.
Cartwraitt says her essay spoke about community and family.
“I wrote some things about what I did to get on the good list,” Cartwraitt said.
“Like me and my grandma helped some homeless people and I helped out my brother this year.”
READ MORE: 4th annual Kingston “Shop with a Cop”
In its five years, 26 is the highest number of students that have been able to participate in the program. .
Jackson says that increase is due to increased sponsorships, including the single largest, supporting 13 students, by the Cataraqui Centre mall.