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June 7, 2023

Cassidy Klaver (left) and officer Josh Chiamulera (right) are all smiles as they head for the toy section in the Rhinelander Walmart Saturday morning.
Cassidy Klaver (left) and officer Josh Chiamulera (right) are all smiles as they head for the toy section in the Rhinelander Walmart Saturday morning.

12/13/2011 7:30:00 AM
Shop with a Cop program helps deserving kids

Monica Baltich

In the spirit of giving, the Rhinelander Police and Fire Departments partnered up Saturday for the second annual "Shop with a Cop" program, which took around 20 hard-working but less fortunate area third graders shopping for some well deserved Christmas presents.

Officer Chad Brown initiated and coordinated the event for the first time last year after getting the idea from his previous job at the Minocqua Police Department.

"We did the program at the last place I worked and I always thought it was really great so when I saw we didn't have it in Rhinelander, I decided, why not start it here too?" he said.

The police department worked with area elementary schools where teachers and principals selected students they thought were deserving of a free shopping day.

Brown said under privileged kids who are hard working are selected because they may have certain issues at home or school, and he believes this program will help boost their Christmas.

"This age is great because they are old enough to understand and are still appreciative of having the opportunity to do this," he said. "We give them money to spend and a lot of them buy gifts for family members but we really encourage them to buy a bigger gift for themselves that maybe their families just can't afford or they wouldn't normally get to buy."

Each child received $100 to spend on whatever they wanted and were accompanied by a firefighter, police officers or their spouses. Bowen Bus Company also donated a bus to transport the kids to the Rhinelander Walmart to buy the presents.

The money comes from community donations, which Brown said they received so much money the program already has funds for next year.

"I've noticed so many businesses and community members want to be involved and help because they want to support their community," he said. "We had more than we needed so the money will stay in the program's separate account so we'll have a good base already for next year."

After the kids were finished shopping, they were taken back to the Rhinelander Fire Department where the firemen made breakfast for everyone and the officers could help them wrap any of the gifts they bought for family members.

Brown said the shopping trip is not only about giving gifts to well deserving kids but it gives them a chance to get a new perspective on firefighters and police officers.

"To kids their age we're an authority figure and they're not sure how to act around us, like they think we're robots or something because usually when they see us it's during an emergency," he said. "They get a chance to see that we have families or a sense of humor and they get comfortable around us, which would make them less nervous to contact us if they every really needed help."

The "Shop with a Cop" program leaves a lasting impression on the third graders, Brown said, but also for the officers and firemen.

"The kids absolutely love it, and their parents and teachers say they can't stop talking about it," he said. "It's great because when they see us, they remember us and it'll be a lifelong memory, and it's a good, positive one to have, especially around Christmas."

Monica Baltich may be reached at [email protected]

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2023
Article comment by: Vivien Gaffney

To the owner, Your posts are always well-referenced and credible.

Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Article comment by: Destiny Fleshman

How would I go about getting Christmas help for my son. I am currently pregnant and was put on permanent bed rest till baby is here. I can�t go back to work till April. I�m a single mom. Anything helps.

Posted: Monday, December 19, 2011
Article comment by: Mark Priebe

What a great idea and program! Hats off to Chad for getting this started in our town. Makes me proud to be a Hodag

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