OSBURN — In a county with a fairly high child-poverty rate, it’s a regrettable fact that some Silver Valley children just don’t have the opportunity to experience a traditional Christmas experience. When families are on a budget, filling the area under the Christmas tree simply can’t be done sometimes.
For the third year in a row though, the Osburn Police Department and other participating agencies are hoping to fix that for some by hosting their annual Shop-with-a-Cop program on Dec. 15 (and possibly Dec. 16).
The completely donation fueled event has Silver Valley children (who meet certain criteria) teaming up with law enforcement officials from OPD, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office, Kellogg Police Department and other participating agencies for a day of holiday shopping.
Kids meet in Osburn, then get the opportunity to ride in an emergency vehicle to the Walmart in Smelterville. It is there where they are given an allowance (normally around $100) to spend on presents they want for themselves or loved ones. This mini shopping spree is supervised by a law enforcement official who is assigned to generally 1-2 kids at a time.
When the shopping has ended, the participating children will come back to Osburn to eat lunch, wrap their gifts and socialize with the law enforcement personnel before going home.
OPD Chief Darell Braaten explains that in addition to brightening someone’s Christmas, the event is also designed to help foster a positive rapport between local children and police.
“The goal is to build a relationship, a bonding, between our youth and law enforcement,” he said. “It allows them an opportunity to interact with us in an comfortable and safe environment.”
Braaten will be accepting applications for children to participate from Nov. 1-30.
In order to qualify, the child must be within the age group of kindergarten through sixth grade, have a social or economic need, and live within Shoshone County.
OPD is also still accepting donations to fund the program right up until the shopping day on Dec. 15. Last year, 52 different entities (either individuals or businesses) donated around $12,000 for 72 kids to spend on shopping. The hope is to raise just as much or more this year.
For any questions regarding the Shop-with-a Cop program, or to apply or donate, stop by the Osburn Police Department or call 208-753-9001.