A convoy of emergency responders who rolled into Walmart Saturday morning had, for once, arrived on the scene of some good news.
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the patrol cars and trucks rolled past the front of the store at 4420 Meridian St., just after 8 a.m. They were met with cheers from children wearing Santa hats, and Mr. Claus himself even made an appearance, hopping out of a South Whatcom Fire Authority truck.
The occasion was Shop with a Cop, an annual national event that partners police officers and firefighters from agencies across Whatcom County with children from low-income families. The groups walked through the store and bought gifts the children picked out – about $50 worth for each child.
The Bellingham Police Association paid for this year’s gifts, said Bellingham Police Chief Cliff Cook. Walmart donated the wrapping paper and wrapped the gifts. Kelly’s O’Deli Catering donated time to serve the meal, which the association also paid for.
This year’s Shop with a Cop drew more than 40 kids, said Det. Tawsha Dykstra with Bellingham Police. Other agencies included Ferndale, Lynden, Western Washington University and Lummi Nation police departments, Washington State Patrol and the Bellingham Fire Department.
Shop with a Cop is a great yearly opportunity to make connections with residents that will be helpful to officers well after the event, Cook said.
“It’s a great opportunity for us, especially police officers, to reconnect with our community every Christmas season,” he added. “And, frankly, it beats pushing a patrol car down the road.”