Last year 16 kids had a Christmas they won’t forget.  Shop with a Cop is about police officers improving the holiday for kids who could use the boost.  Columbia Township Police went to work as Santa’s helpers, and others pitched in.  John Lefere and wife, Susan, arrived at Columbia Elementary School in their 40 foot, 48,000 pound Prevost motor home.  The kids, ages 11, 8, and younger, boarded the motorhome.  But not before the former MIS chief presented a trophy to each one of the excited kids. Once seated, the procession moved forward,  with police and fire vehicles escorting the entourage from school grounds.

At the store, they picked out the gifts.  According to John Karkheck, the kids chose gifts to give to other family members, rather than themselves.  Later, the group moved to the Brooklyn Sportsman Club where the wives of members wrapped the gifts and served lunch.  Each kid received a sock filled with goodies.  Dotty Karkheck personalized each one by name.

Will it happen again?  Originally, Shop with a Cop police officers paid for the gifts out of their own pocket.  More recently, fundraising has changed that, and $5,100 was donated last year.  John Karkheck points to the generosity of Clark Lake and Columbia Township.  So far this year, Walmart has donated $1,500 to the cause.  This year, the Columbia Township Fire Department will join the effort.

Police Chief Jay Niles and John Karkheck will be accepting donations at the Eagle’s Nest on Saturday, December 3rd at the Eagle’s Nest from 12 noon to 3 pm.  Checks, made out to Columbia Township with Shop with a Cop on the memo line, may also be dropped off at the dropbox at the Columbia Township office.

In this video from a couple years ago, a former police officer tells how Shop with a Cop changed an outcome for a girl who was struggling.