There will be some excited shoppers today at the West Chester Township Meijer store.
Twenty-five children from the Lakota schools are joining West Chester Township police officers for an early evening of shopping followed by a dinner with food donated by the Ohio 747 Skyline Chili and the West Chester Township Uno Chicago Grill.
“We get to make a lot of good relationships with families that a lot of times see us in a not so positive way,’’ said Michelle Berling, a public affairs officer organizing the event. “This is a way for the children to get to see officers in a good light.”
Participating children were selected by officials from the Lakota Schools, based on family income. They range from kindergartners to sixth graders.
Each child is paired up with a police officer or administrative assistant to shop one-on-one with a child. The children can spend $200 on gifts for themselves and family members.
“The police officers and civilian employees volunteer their own time to come in and shop with the kids, creating a great opportunity for the children to interact and become more comfortable with police officers,” Berling said.
Members of the township’s Police Explorers post and alumni from the Citizen Police Academy set up the food in a back room at Meijer while the children are shopping. They serve the meal then clean up afterward.
The Kids and Cops project is a partnership between Meijer, the West Chester Township Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 186 for the annual event. It begins when parents drop off their children at 4:30 p.m., at the Tylersville Road store.
Meijer provided $5,000 for the program.