EagleHerald/Wes Beyer
Deputy Chuck Van Horn of the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department looks at a Green Bay Packers wreath with Tilly, age 6, of Crivitz, Saturday at the Pine Tree Mall in Marinette during the “Shop with a Cop” event.
EagleHerald/Wes Beyer

Deputy Chuck Van Horn of the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department looks at a Green Bay Packers wreath with Tilly, age 6, of Crivitz, Saturday at the Pine Tree Mall in Marinette during the “Shop with a Cop” event.

MARINETTE — Local youths had an opportunity Saturday to go Christmas shopping with local police officers during the annual Shop with a Cop event organized by Bay Cities Radio. The event pairs kids with officers and helps them to see police officers in a positive light.

The morning started off with breakfast for the kids, officers and family members at Brothers Three at 8 a.m. According to April Hansen, co-owner of Brothers Three, upwards of 47 kids were registered and in attendance for the event, as well as 46 officers with their families. Officers from the cities of Menominee, Marinette and Peshtigo were represented along with Marinette and Menominee County Sheriffs’ departments, and Michigan State Police.

During breakfast, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus made an appearance, and the kids had an opportunity to talk to them and receive a gift bag prepared by the event’s volunteers.

Buddy the Elf also attended, excited at the opportunity to see Santa. Buddy, still searching for his father, said that “he’s a lovely man, and if you have any leads as to where he is I’m at Brothers Three seven days a week.”

Matt Vanni, a parole officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections, has been involved with the event since it began. “I think it was around 1999 or 2000, and it’s been running ever since then,” he said, “It started in Menominee and it’s been a little different every year.” 

Vanni said that this event is a great way not just for the kids to see police positively, but for the community at large to see them in a good light as well. “I think people see us more for what we do in the community as far as laws, and I think it’s good for people to see that we’re people too, and we do care. That’s why I’m a part of it,” he said.

Jim Hansen, the other co-owner of Brothers Three with his wife April, is on his second year of involvement with the event. “I was involved the first year they did it, and then this my second year,” he said. Hansen also said that the most enjoyable part of the event for him was seeing the kids having fun and the officers with smiles on their faces.

After the kids met the Clauses and Buddy and received their gift bags, they along with the officers were bused over to Pine Tree Mall to start their Christmas shopping. Kids and officers spent about an hour exploring the mall looking for gifts for their families. Deputy Chuck Van Horn of the Menominee Police Department and his children, Alexis and Conner, accompanied Tilly, age 6, of Crivitz as she looked for gifts for her family. According to Van Horn, Tilly was specifically looking for “cars, trucks, Packer stuff and a blue RC truck.”