The very first Shop With a Cop program sponsored by the Muscatine Police Officers Association was held on December 10, 1991. We raised $3,000 through public donations and were able to take 30 local children shopping. These children would otherwise not have experienced Christmas. Each child was given $100 to spend on Christmas gifts for themselves and their family. During that first event, we could clearly see the impact it had on those children, but we had no idea at that time how important it would become for our officers as well. Each December, our officers get to witness the caring soul of our community as the donations pour in, and then see the type of impact kindness and the gift of caring can have in the life of a child. These are things that police officers don’t often see, so it means a lot to us to be part of this program.
Since that year, the MPOA has held a fundraiser specifically for the Shop With a Cop program every holiday season. Beginning with the initial event, our community has raised over $200,000 and allowed more than 2000 children to go Christmas shopping. The success we have had with this program would not have been possible without two very important partners. Since 1994, the MPOA has partnered with the Muscatine Wal-Mart store in this event. Wal-Mart has become as much a part of the Shop With a Cop program as the MPOA is. Without their assistance and efforts, this yearly event would not be possible.
The second and most important partner in the Shop With a Cop program are the people and businesses who donate to the fund. The vast majority of the money comes from within Muscatine County, including Muscatine Charities, Inc. However, we also receive donations from across the state and as far away as New Jersey. The community is the real hero of this event. The Muscatine Police Officers Association is honored to be the representatives of those people when the children arrive at the Wal-Mart store in early December of each year. The MPOA would like to join the children who have taken part in the Shop With a Cop program over the years in saying “Thank you, Muscatine!”