The line of police vehicles from around Lower Bucks County outside the Target in Middletown on Sunday morning could have easily marked something negative, but it was, in fact, something positive.
The officers and 230 kids from around the area were at the store shopping as part of the “Shop With A Cop” program.
Middletown Officer Melissa Robison, who helped organize the event, said each child was able to spend around $200 on gifts. The total amount spend was $46,000.
Kids who live within the Neshaminy and Council Rock school districts benefited from the program and many purchased gifts for their friends and family.
Officers from Lower Southampton, Middletown, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township, Northampton, and Upper Makefield took part in the event with volunteers from around the communities.
“This was clearly our largest year yet and the community came through with the means to meet the needs of so many deserving kids. Thank you is simply not enough. They not only funded the holidays for these children but also the priceless experiences that we got to have with them,” Robison said.
Newtown Township Chief of Police John Hearn said shoppers at Target inquired about what was happening and then stepped up to donate money on the spot.
“This program is a great opportunity to provide children who may not experience the joys of Christmas otherwise. Officers volunteered their time to take children shopping for items for themselves or for family members,” Hearn said.
“It was remarkable to watch the children interact with officers, some beginning with hesitation and quickly transitioning to a comfortable bond. I was pleased to see this event become a well-attended community gathering,” the chief said.
Middletown started the program in the Neshaminy School District in 2016 and helped 35 families. In the years since, additional departments have been added and more kids have been helped.
The public, local businesses, and community groups have stepped up to help fund the program as it has grown.
“Call it lucky, fortunate or blessed, we are all of it. It has been such a moving experience year after year,” Robison said.
Fundraising for the 2020 event has already begun. The Middletown Community Foundation is stepping forward to help fund the program and collection donations.