Spreading holiday cheer: West Hawaii kids ‘Shop with a Cop’

  • Lt. Akira Edmoundson helps a keiki pick out a toy Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Capt. Thomas Shopay shops with a keiki and his mom Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Officer Leonard Warren shops with keiki Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Officer Dwayne Sluss gives Kupona a shaka for his choice Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Sgt. Mike Hardie takes a photo of Genesis for a keiki ID Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Officer Mike Gusman poses for a photo with Jaxton Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Officer Meredith Matsushima gets a ride from Marianna Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Officer Mara Gaertner helps Liahona pick out a Barbie doll Saturday at the Shop with a Cop event at the Kona Target. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Hawaii Police Department officers spread some holiday cheer among West Hawaii keiki Saturday during the annual Shop with a Cop event in Kailua-Kona.

Sixty-three “disadvantaged” children and their families turned out for the special Catholic Charities Hawaii event that’s been running for nearly two decades now. Shop with a Cop, an event held nationally, strives to build positive relationships with law enforcement while shopping for meaningful gifts for the youth and their families for an extra special Christmas.

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“It’s a special event within a magical time of a child’s life that we, the police officers, can come together in a brief moment and show that we really care,” said Community Policing Officer Dwayne Sluss.

Each child was given a $100 gift card to select holiday gifts thanks to groups like the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Auxiliary and Paying It Forward. The VFW also stepped up its efforts this year by funding an extra 40 gift cards loaded with $25 to defray costs usually picked up by officers when tabs run over $100.

“This is so cool,” said one child as the youngster perused the aisles of Target.

Unlike previous years in which officers were paired with individual youngsters, things were switched up this year because of the ongoing COVID pandemic with officers stationed throughout the store to encourage the keiki and help them choose the perfect gifts.

“Given COVID, and what is happening in the world today, it is important our community knows what is good,” said Community Policing Officer Wyatt Nahale. “Everybody laughing and smiling and core values were the most special things to see.”

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