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Officers brighten holidays

Members of the Detroit lakes police department participated in the Shop with a Cop program this year, taking seven local kids shopping for presents for either their family members or themselves. SUBMITTED PHOTO1 / 2
Detroit Lakes Police Officer Brent Fulton helps brothers Ian and Chace Householder shop for Christmas presents Thursday. Star Wars anything was the gift of the day. The DLPD organized the Shop with a Cop program this year, and was able to help seven area kids have a brighter Christmas. DL NEWSPAPERS/Pippi Mayfield2 / 2

This year, seven kids got to have a merrier Christmas thanks to the Detroit Lakes Police Department.

Four police officers gathered at Walmart in Detroit Lakes on Thursday afternoon to take seven elementary-aged kids shopping for Christmas presents. The kids had the option of shopping for their family members or themselves.

“There’s the saying, ‘in giving, you really receive.’ It’s really true,” Officer David Shawstad said.

This was the first organized Shop with a Cop for the Detroit Lakes Police Department, he said, though the school liaison officer has helped the school with a similar program in the past.

“I decided this year, why not do it,” he said, so he got approval and organized the shopping event.

He said it was teamwork between the department, the school, Walmart and other businesses in town and individuals that donated money that made the event come together.

“We’re definitely looking at doing this every year to support the community,” Walmart Store Manager Chris Malecka said. “That’s really what it comes down to.”

Walmart and several vendors gave donations for the kids to shop. They also brought Santa in to greet the kids and hand out candy canes.

Shawstad said that the police department plans to make this an annual tradition and hopefully can raise more money in years to come to help out even more kids.

They raised about $650 for the seven kids to spend this year. The kids then led officers Shawstad, Beau Shroyer, Brent Fulton and Wayne Striebel through the store, picking out toys, candy, movies and video games.

When they got up to pay, Shawstad said, they had overspent a little, but the officers chipped in to cover the cost.

“The kids were having so much fun. It was worth it,” he said.

Not only was it helping “kids that had financial or emotional hardship this year,” but it also helped to show the kids that police officers are just regular guys that are there to help. He said officers aren’t just there to write tickets, but to help communicate with the community and build relationships as well.

The four officers who participated, he said, volunteered their time with the kids.

“We were shopaholics for a day,” Shawstad said with a laugh.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.