From Staff Reports, The Apopka Police Department and ICON Park
Every holiday season children dream of waking up to big, shiny presents and overflowing stockings. However, in these difficult times, this won’t be a reality for some.
To help ease the struggle and give back during the holiday, the Apopka Police Department (APD) did something they do every year that’s extra special. Setting aside their busy to-do lists and schedules, officers take time to go Christmas shopping with some of these kids from our community. It’s an annual event that brings joy and makes memories that last well beyond the holiday. This year, it was a 10 day event!
“We’re proud members of the Central Florida community and we want to do our part to give back, not just this holiday season, but year round,” said Chris Jaskiewicz, ICON Park president and CEO. “The Apopka Police Department’s Shop With a Cop program is the perfect way to build community connections and make a big difference in children’s lives.”
The Shop With a Cop program was designed to build positive relationships between police officers and the children of the community, especially those who are in need. Kids who live in Apopka, are between the ages of 6-11, and who are struggling with a social or economic need, are nominated each year to participate.
But it was more than a shopping trip this time for at least 12 kids and their families.
On Saturday, December 19, some of the families and officers who went to ICON Park enjoyed a complimentary lunch from the Wheelhouse Market Food Hall, enjoying foods from Sausage Shack, Shack Sweets, ICONIC Chicken and 1905 Pizza and Pasta. Afterward, the participants who were brave enough, got a 400-foot view of Orlando as they rode The Wheel.
Of course, the children also received money to spend on special gifts which they did as shown in the above video, having a shopping spree at the local Apopka Walmart over the course of the 10 day event! As is often the case, these kids wanted to use the money to buy presents for their family and friends, but the officers reminded them that they deserve a special treat as well. Each child was able to pick out a gift for themselves, bringing a lot of smiles to young and old alike.
As it is every year, so it was this past week – a very positive experience not only for the kids, but definitely warming the hearts of the officers too.
Thank you APD, all the business sponsors and community for caring about our kids and community!
Article updated December 23, 2020 from original publication