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Law Enforcement give back with Shop with a Cop event for kids

Members of the Dickinson Police Department and the Stark County Sheriff's Office took a small break to help kids purchase gifts on Tuesday night for the annual Shop with a Cop event.

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Members of the Dickinson Police Department and the Stark County Sheriff's Office took a small break to help kids purchase gifts on Tuesday night for the annual Shop with a Cop event.

Twenty-six kids were selected to be part of the event through various avenues including Stark County Social Services, Community Action and other local entities, DPD Capt. David Wilkie said. The kids were each given $75 Walmart gift cards to spend on whatever they wanted, whether for themselves or others.

Wilkie said he enjoys helping to organize the event and watching the kids' faces as they pick out their favorite toy or even sometimes something for a sibling or parent. He said he knows it means a lot to the families involved who may be struggling to pay the bills much less think about buying their kids presents for Christmas.

"There's some of these families whose parents have been out of work for months," he said. "... This is a hard time for them because there's so many needs at this time of year: the high heat costs, the food costs. If your vehicle is going to breakdown it's going to be in the winter. Presents are unfortunately down at the bottom of the list of things that need to be purchased."

Many kids bought gifts for their siblings and parents. One group even put together their money so they could buy an Xbox One for their whole family to enjoy.

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Dustie Martin, 16, said when she first got to the store it was a bit nerve-wracking.

"When I first got here and saw all of them it kind of shocked me, but then I realized they were here to shop with us," she said.

She said she enjoyed her experience shopping with DPD Sgt. Mike Hanel and added that it really helps her to appreciate everything that police officers to do for people.

"They are really, really responsible," she said. "They have to be very calm and confident with what they do and very wise with what they do. ... It was very fun to hang out with (Hanel)."

Hanel has been a part of Shop with a Cop for many years now and said he enjoys spending time with the kids and spreading cheer, especially around the holiday season.

"This tops off the end of the year," Hanel said.

Lisa Cassarly said she loves that her son, Colten, gets to come and spend time with the police officers who he looks up to a lot.

"It's just really heartwarming that there's people out there that are willing to do things like this, especially the officers," she said. "Times are tough, especially around the holidays. He (her son) enjoys it, and for him it was more about spending time with the policemen is what means the most to him."

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In the past only five or six children were able to participate in the program. However, Wilkie said the North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, which organizes the program, received a "very generous" donation from ConocoPhillips earlier this year that will allow the program to continue at its current capacity for the next eight years.

"It is amazing," Wilkie said. "It was an unbelievable gift. This program here-you just see the kids come back and you see their faces, or even the parents' faces-it's well, well worth it."

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