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Police offer 'shop with a cop' holiday program

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

Several Rochester police officers will spend an afternoon helping some disadvantaged kids buy holiday gifts for family members using grant money donated by a local business.

"Shop with a Cop" is a program that has become popular throughout the country. This is the first year the program has been active in Rochester.

Andrea Thomas, a project specialist with the Police Athletic Activities League, said the program is made possible by a $2,500 grant from Wal-Mart North in Rochester.

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She said about 20 officers will pair up with 20 youths who are members of PAL on the afternoon of Dec. 18.

The children involved in PAL range in age from 5 to 18. Thomas expects most of those involved in the shopping program will be middle-school age.

Families have been invited to participate, and "there has been a great response," Thomas said. "Most of these kids don't get to go Christmas shopping."

Hopes are to have one officer accompany each child. They will meet for lunch at Wal-Mart North, the kids will get a tour of a squad car and a ride around the parking lot, and then go shopping at Wal-Mart.

The Police Athletic/Activities League is a youth crime prevention program that has a 90-year history nationally, providing alternatives for youths at risk. The local chapter was formed in 1999 and has been involving area youths in activities including boxing, football, soccer and field trips.

Police officers volunteer their time. The chapter was organized by Fred Fanning, a Rochester police officer who died last year of cancer.

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