An initiative that enables a group of elementary students to have lunch and do some Christmas shopping with local RCMP officers continues to be a hit with participants, organizers say.
This year’s edition of the Cop Shop event in Yarmouth took place Dec. 11, when six Mounties and 10 students from Yarmouth Central School got together, first for a meal, then for a little shopping.
This was the fourth year for the Yarmouth program.
“The school selects 10 students who make a positive contribution to the school and who are deserving of taking part in the event,” said Jeff Forbes, the initiative’s founder.
The format is basically the same from year to year.
“We meet at the school,” Forbes said. “Then they (the participating students) get a drive in the police vehicles to Wendy’s for a donated lunch. Wendy’s donates the lunch for the officers and students. At Wendy’s, they go over their Christmas lists for what they’re going to buy for their families and they get to know the officers.”
From there, it’s off to Dollarama, where the officers accompany the students as they pick out gifts for people on their list.
Dollarama provides $25 gift cards to each of the students and Yarmouth lawyer Phil Star contributes $250 to the initiative for a total of $500 worth of purchases, or $50 per student.
“We’re very happy with the program,” Forbes said. “The officers enjoy taking part. The (students) really enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to get to know local police officers.”
Cst. Jeff Chartrand of the Yarmouth town detachment of the RCMP and of those involved in the event, said officers welcome the chance to connect with young people in this way.
“It’s a great way to build a relationship with the youth,” he said, adding that it gives the RCMP members a break from their regular routine. “Instead of doing reactive policing, this is pro-active, building relationships with them (the students), and it comes at a good time of year, Christmastime. Everyone wants to give a little bit.”
Members representing both the Yarmouth town and rural detachments were among this year’s participants.