When 6-year-old Jeremiah Como entered Walmart on Friday morning, he knew what he wanted: a new bicycle.
He had a hard time picking one out. But luckily he had two new friends, Detective Jimmy Williams and Sgt. Kevin Landwehrle, to help him out. The two Lacey police officers made sure he picked out a helmet, too.
Jeremiah was one of 10 Lacey Boys & Girls Club members who went shopping with Lacey police officers as part of the department’s Shop with a Cop holiday program. The annual Lacey event was the first of its kind in Thurston County, organized 11 years ago by Detective Miguel Stansberry. The trend has since spread, with programs starting in Tumwater last year and Olympia this year.
Shellica Trevino, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County, said she’s thrilled that the program has caught on locally, and she hopes even more local law enforcement agencies will sign on in coming years.
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“It’s just a great program,” Trevino said. “The kids all love it.”
Friday morning’s shopping spree started at the Lacey police station, where Stansberry briefed the children on what they would be doing.
“I was told that 10 kids from the Boys & Girls Club wanted to hang out with some cops,” Stansberry told them. “So I said, ‘All right, don’t just send me any kids. I want the best kids you’ve got this year.’”
He told the children that they would each get to spend $250 at Walmart, get a special tour and gift bag at Northwest Harley Davidson, and spend $100 at Olympic Cards and Comics. Stansberry encouraged the kids to buy anything they wanted — including presents for family members.
Each child was paired with an officer or two, and traveled to Walmart in police cars — which was a thrill in itself.
“He loved riding in the police car — I think it was his favorite part so far,” said Kimberly Robinson of her son, 6-year-old Aden Morrow.
Aden took Stansberry’s advice and bought a large beanbag replica of a poop emoji. He laughed at the officers’ reactions to the purchase and tried to use the beanbag as a chair.
At Northwest Harley Davidson, co-owner Julio Valdenegro took the group on a behind-the-scenes tour, which ended with Santa photos on a motorcycle.
As the parade of police cars traveled to Olympic Cards and Comics, 12-year-old Josie Campos Arredondo said she hoped to find a figurine of Harley Quinn, a comic book character recently re-popularized by the movie “Suicide Squad.” She and many of the other girls purchased plush Harley Quinn dolls.
At the end of the shopping spree, Campos Arredondo said it had been one of the best days of her life.