Christmas ”Shop With a Cop” Program:
Every year before Christmas, police officers, deputies, and State Troopers from every law enforcement agency in McHenry County volunteer their time and take 200 youth shopping for the “Shop with a Cop” program.
Organizers work with providers in the County to identify those children in McHenry County that would benefit most in participation.
Criteria that is looked at in selection:
- Less fortunate and would not have a Christmas otherwise
- Could benefit from the positive one on one police officer interaction
Each year the “MCPC” Board works diligently to identify new children to participate in the program. Participants are between the age of 5 and 15 years old.
Participants are picked up at their residence by a police officer from their jurisdiction and taken to Wal-Mart to shop. Currently each participant can get a coat, boots, hat and gloves if they need them. They also can spend up to $150.00 on gifts for themselves and family members.
After shopping, the officer and child go to breakfast. Breakfast currently is hosted by D’Andrea’s Banquets in Crystal Lake and 31 North in McHenry. Volunteers help serve breakfast to the children and officers. Volunteers also help wrap the presents the children picked out while they eat breakfast. Children have the opportunity to meet with Santa after they eat breakfast. After breakfast children are returned home with their presents.
Each year 200 police officers and additional approximately 200 volunteers make the “Shop with a Cop” day possible.
Christmas Meal Program:
With the assistance and partnership of Meijer Foods in McHenry in 2008 we began our Christmas Meal program. About 30 families benefit from a Christmas meal with “all the fixings” you would need to celebrate Christmas day. Often these meals are so bountiful that the food is enough for the week. Meals include Ham, potatoes, milk, juice, eggs, fruits, stuffing, vegetables, breakfast items, a desert, and more. Meijer employees help with this program and even add special things from their heart to the meals. Meals are delivered annually by Meijer employees, police officers, MCPC Board Members, teachers, and more. The goal of this program is to provide a meal for a family gathering or celebration to those that would have nothing otherwise.
Back to School Program:
Years ago MCPC provided an additional program called Back to School “SWAC”. The MCPC Board currently is unable to have this program active because of financial and volunteer support. 70 children participated after being selected to go shopping at Wal-mart with an officer for back to school supplies and clothes.
We receive referrals from referring bodies in the community that have working knowledge of those in the community that “needs” to participate in the program. These referring agencies and programs represent each community of McHenry County. During the application process preference is given to those that have never participated in our program. In 2011, over 99% participants were new to “SWAC”.
We do check our participant list with other programs similar to ours in McHenry County. One can only participate in one program at a time. We understand there is a great need out in the community for support and so we try and avoid duplications of services.
Due to the sensitive nature of the identity of our participants, we do not disclose to the public their identities. Children’s faces or identity is not shared with media or public.