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Apopka Christmas 2021

Shop with a Cop program bringing joy to Apopka kids for almost two decades

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There are a lot of Christmas traditions in Apopka. 

The Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting Ceremony, Arts in the Park, and Holiday Pops immediately come to mind and are events Apopkans look forward to all year. But perhaps the most inspiring tradition in this community is the Shop with a Cop event that starts next week.

Now nearing its 20th year, the Apopka Police Department established Shop with a Cop to build positive relationships between police officers and the children of the community. Kids that are selected go shopping with members of the APD, Apopka City Commission, and the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. Each child receives $100 to spend on Christmas gifts. 

Participants are between the ages of 6 and 11, have a social or economic need, have not have participated in the Shop With a Cop program in the past, and are residents of Apopka.

In the past, the event was on a single day in December, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it was stretched out to 10 days.

"We were able to spread it out to 10 nights for social distancing," said APD Community Policing Officer Jason Wiggins. "And because we liked how easy it was to manage this event with so many people that we decided to continue it this way... which is why we have 10 nights again this year."

For this season, Shop with a Cop is December 6th-10th, and 13th-17th at the Walmart Super Center (1700 South Orange Blossom Trail). 

According to Wiggins, there are currently donations totaling $9,000, including two large gifts from Dan Newlin, ($2,500) and Synergy Electric ($2,500).

Apopka Police Chief Michael McKinley sees the benefits as two-fold to the community.

“Once again, thanks to generous donations from our community partners, the Apopka Police Department is able to hold our annual Shop with a Cop event," said McKinley. "This year is really important, as many members of our community have struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic and are not going to be able to provide a Christmas for their children. Not only does our Shop with a Cop event provide these children with a better Christmas, it is also an opportunity for them to see law enforcement officers in a positive light and aids them in understanding that we are here to help them. Every year our officers look forward to this event, and helping these children have a Christmas they otherwise may not have had.”

And Wiggins says there is still time for sponsors to help support this event. 

"Every $100 goes to a child in need so they can buy themselves toys for the holidays while shopping with an Apopka Police Officer," he said. "It is our way of connecting with the citizens that we serve while also giving back to those less fortunate."

 For questions about the event or to donate, email JWiggins@Apopka.net or call 407-703-1771.

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