Shop with a Cop event provides shopping day for Integrated Community |

Shop with a Cop event provides shopping day for Integrated Community

Steamboat Springs Police officer Lidia Frescas looks on as Adela Hernandez and her son Alex check out a stuffed Pokémon in the toy aisle at Walmart on Sunday during the seventh annual Shop with a Cop event. Routt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ryan Adrian, who helped organize the event, said the partnership with Walmart provides children, and local families, with a little holiday cheer this time of year. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — “I wanted this one last time I was here, but it was too expensive,” Sheccid Pharra told Routt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dawn Smith, her eyes wide as she held up a silver-sequined, sparkling zip-up jacket.

“Well, today it’s yours,” Smith responded.

Pharra was one of eight children who received $205 to buy whatever they wanted from the Steamboat Springs Walmart as part of Routt County’s annual “Shop with a Cop” event, where officers from each law enforcement agency in Routt County are paired up with a child and given a Walmart gift card to buy the child whatever they want.

“For us, it’s about bridging the gap,” said Routt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ryan Adrian. “It’s bringing the community and law enforcement together.”

Normally a one-day event, the Sheriff’s Office spread out the event over two Sundays this year due to COVID-19 guidelines, with this Sunday specifically designated for children involved with immigration nonprofit Integrated Community. Also due to COVID-19, Sunday’s event only included officers from the Steamboat Springs Police Department and Sheriff’s Office deputies, but officers from Hayden and Oak Creek and state troopers from Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Parks and Wildlife will join next Sunday.

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Pharra, 11, was born in Mexico and immigrated to Steamboat at 1. She now attends Strawberry Park Middle School and enjoys painting and other crafts.

Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins looks through the toy aisle with Yalexa Palma, 6, during the seventh annual Shop with a Cop event at the Walmart store in Steamboat Springs on Sunday. (Photo by John F. Russell)

When she and Smith entered the crafting aisle at Walmart, Pharra ran to the first tie-dye set she laid eyes on.

“I always wanted to do tie-dye, I just never learned how,” she told Smith.

“I’ll show you,” Smith replied, holding up a white T-shirt. As Pharra reached out to grab the shirt while Smith described tying the shirt and using the colors, Pharra’s younger brother, Ian, passed by with a group of Steamboat Springs Police Department officers, his shopping cart filled with Legos and plastic dinosaurs.

At that moment, Pharra decided she wanted to pivot and look for Christmas gifts for her family members.

Steamboat Springs Police officer Lidia Frescas talks with Christian Hernandez in the toy aisle at Walmart Sunday during the seventh annual Shop with a Cop program. Routt County Sheriff's Office deputies and members of the Steamboat Springs Police Department took part in Sunday's event, which is the first of two shopping days. A second Shop with a Cop event is planned for next Sunday, and the two days will benefit at least 18 children in Routt County. (Photo by John F. Russell)

She spent the next hour perusing the aisles, carefully searching for the perfect gift for each family member, when she stumbled across a pair of khaki pants that looked just like ones her mother owned.

“Mom, I’m going to look just like you,” she yelled to her mother visible from several aisles away.

By the end of the event, Pharra’s cart was filled with a miniature easel, a magnetic painting canvas, the sequined jacket, a pair of brown winter boots and gifts for her family members, all of which she said she would not have been able to buy without the event.

Smith said the event is particularly rewarding for her because when shopping with her children, she often has to tell them “no,” but for a few hours on one Sunday a year, she gets to tell a child “yes” to every item they want until they reach $205.

“I think the cops like it even more than the kids,” Adrian said, adding the event is rewarding to help children in need and see them happy.

Adrian started the event seven years ago, inspired by a similar law enforcement event he heard about from a friend in Wisconsin. Walmart provides $3,500 every year, and law enforcement receives varying amounts of private donations to match that, with this year’s being about $500.

Dominic Pharra was happy with his choice as he shops with his mom Nancy and older brother Ian as Steamboat Springs Police Officer Manuel Fajardo pushed the cart for the family at the Shop with a Cop event Sunday at the Steamboat Springs Walmart. (Photo by John F. Russell)
Routt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Ryan Adrian, who has helped organize the Shop with a Cop event since it began seven years ago, lays out a game plan with the police and sheriff's deputies that volunteered their time to take part. (Photo by John F. Russell)

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