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Shop with a Cop 2021

The short story of a community coming together to look after its own.

The story of Shop With a Cop begins in the summer of 2014 with two junior Officers. While every Kingston Police Officer joins the department to make a difference in their communities, these two wanted to go the extra mile for some of the city’s most vulnerable. The Officers decided to replicate a program already used in other provinces, where 12-13 year old kids would be selected to receive $200.00 gift cards to buy Christmas presents for their families.

On the first Wednesday in December, a pair of Constables would volunteer their time to pick up one of the kids at their school in a marked cruiser. The winners were then driven to the Cataraqui Town Centre and provided with a breakfast that was generously donated by local merchants (Starbucks and Tim Hortons). During the meal, the Officers would help the winner budget their gift card to make sure that every member of the family got a gift. The trio would then set out to shop!

picture of lego police shop with a cop

When the shopping was done, the Police would label all of the gifts and take them back to the station where they were wrapped by volunteers. Constable volunteers then delivered the sack of gifts to the winners and their families between the 22nd and 24th of December. This ensured that the gifts remained a surprise for Christmas morning!

This project was only possible in its early years through the incredible support from Rhonda Mosher and the Cataraqui Town Centre. They donated, and continue to donate, funds to support 13 teens and their families. Additionally, Constables raised funds privately through friends and family to reach as many kids as possible.

Each year saw and expansion to the program. Doug Springer provided Kingston Frontenacs toques and mitts for each winner, as well as tickets for them and their families to a special home game where the winners were honoured. Merchants at the mall offered special discounts to the kids to stretch their gift cards as far as possible. Soon, other prominent philanthropists also got involved. By Christmas 2019, the program had doubled and was now supporting 26 Kingston families, all through the donations of private citizens and Police Officers’ personal time.

The summer of 2020 found Shop With a Cop a new benefactor. Local businessman Peter Kostagiannis learned of the program and offered to help raise money. With his generosity, and that of his friends and associates, Shop With a Cop now had enough money to support 62 Kingston families with $200.00 gift cards to the mall, plus a full Christmas dinner and $100.00 gift card for groceries courtesy of Loblaws! Given the immensely trying times of the pandemic, we were extraordinarily thankful for this incredible help.

While wonderful news, this rapid expansion posed a new challenge. Because the Kingston Police Force is a small service, we needed to increase our personnel. With two Officers dedicated to each winner, we needed to expand Shop With a Cop to include Kingston Fire Rescue, Paramedics and Emergency Room Nurses. All three groups expressed interest in helping out, but Covid-19 remained an obstacle.

With revolving lockdowns and an evolving health threat, Christmas of 2020 was particularly challenging. Police and the schools were concerned with exposure to the virus, and determined that teaming the winners up with Police and other First Responders would not work. Fortunately, people who become First Responders are not known to be quitters! School Resource Officer Constable Jennifer Knott stepped up and arranged for each of the 62 students to send their wish lists to her. She then organized a team of volunteers and they spent the next 6 weeks, after work and on weekends, Christmas shopping for 62 families! All of the gifts and groceries were delivered on time, and a Merry Christmas was had by all.

With the massive success of Shop With a Cop 2020, Peter and Jen are at it again! This year, COVID presents the same challenges and we have raised the bar to 65 families. So if you are in the Cataraqui Town Centre in November and December, keep your eyes out for Constable Knott and her friends. They will be out and about spreading Christmas cheer in the greatest city on Earth!

Applications for this amazing event are submitted through the child’s school.

Contact Us

Kingston Police
705 Division Street
Kingston, Ontario
K7K 4C2

Telephone: 613-549-4660
TTY (hearing impaired): 613-549-8792
Administration Fax: 613-549-3111
Operations Fax: 613-549-7111

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