Natalie Cooper slid a Halifax Shopping Centre gift card across the cash counter of a shoe store yesterday – a new pair of sequined gold shoes clutched under her arm.
“I also have to get something for my mom,” the 10-year-old said, recommending Mike & Ikes, her mother’s favourite candy.
Cooper, who is from Bedford, was one of 50 children who participated in the fifth annual CopShop yesterday. The program, presented by Halifax Shopping Centre and the Halifax Regional Police, turns police officers into personal shoppers.
Armed with wish lists, 50 officers are paired off with children aged seven to 12 and have two hours to spend a $200 gift card donated by the mall.
The children also receive a new winter coat, hat and mittens provided by HSC.
Const. Jennifer Lake, a resource officer at Eaglewood Drive Elementary, accompanied Cooper to shoe, movie, and clothing stores. She said kids are recommended for the program by teachers and administration at their elementary schools. Although there is no particular label, Lake explained the selected children often come from a lower economic background, or perhaps have lost someone close to them.
“The program gives us an opportunity to be able to spend time with a child that does need a little extra support or cheering up,” she said, sporting a festive hat decorated with jingling bells. “It’s a great opportunity for us to connect.”
Natalie met her twin sister, Natasha, in the hallway of the mall to boast about their finds. Lake, who participated in the program last year, said there is an electricity of excitement circulating through the kids that makes it all worth it.
“To have the opportunity to run through a mall and be able to fulfill her wish list, which may or may not be filled by others means, is heartwarming, especially at this time of year.”
Lake also implied this wouldn’t be her last year participating in CopShop.
“We all experience some tough things through our jobs and this is the highlight of the year, the absolute highlight,” she said.