A day for Christmas shopping
La PORTE — Area CASA and CAYA teens were able to get their Christmas shopping done on Saturday thanks to Family Advocates and the La Porte Police Department.
Family Advocates held their annual “Shop with a Cop” shopping trip for qualifying La Porte teenagers. The teens were given $100 to get whatever they wanted for Christmas.
Family Advocates Executive Assistant Maggie Fritzen expressed her excitement during the day’s events.
“This is the best day that I have all year. It’s my absolute favorite,” Fritzen said. “Seeing all of the kids get to shop for Christmas presents is so amazing.”
The teens don’t always buy for themselves, however.
“What we have found in the past is when they go to check out, they might have one or two things for themselves, but they are buying things to give to their families, as well,” Fritzen said. “It’s the sweetest thing in the entire world and it just warms my heart to see.”
The need for “Shop with a Cop” stems from a hard line that often gets drawn by other charitable organizations.
In fact, according to Fritzen, that is exactly why the program was introduced. Shop with a Cop started out because “Toys for Tots” typically only gives to children under the age of 12. Once they hit the age of 13, their siblings would have toys that were coming from Toys for Tots, and these kids would be left with nothing.
In response to this oversight, Family Advocates reached out to the La Porte Police Department. The chief of police at the time, Adam Klimczak, helped set up the program with the Fraternal Order of Police.
The FOP then received help from the Deserving Children Roofsit and La Porte Chrysler in raising funds for the cause.
Current Police Chief Tom Owens has instituted a way in which to collect money for the teens within the police department.
The officers raised money for this cause by participating in “No Shave November,” in which the officers paid to participate. The department allows the officers to grow their beards out for the entire month of November, provided they donate $20 to the La Porte teens’ Christmas shopping.
“Chief Owens has really been fantastic. He really stepped up the game with the ‘No Shave November.’ When he started allowing the police to grow beards, we were able to start getting extra income for the project,” Fritzen said.
Owens is optimistic that the program will continue to grow.
“We’re hoping we are going to get it to grow more for next year,” Owens said. “We hope to get more participation from the public and local businesses so that we can do bigger and better things.”
Mayor Mark Krentz came out to witness the fruits of the police department’s labor.
“I’m here to show my support to the police department and to the event, Shop with a Cop. I appreciate the work that they are doing, and I know it means a lot to the kids to have the chance to go shopping. I’m also envious of some of the beards that they are growing,” he joked. “It’s for a great cause, so I’m happy to support it.”