ELYRIA — With sirens blaring and lights flashing as they rolled into the parking lot, Elyria police guided two buses full of children from the Boys and Girls Club of Elyria to the Walmart at Chestnut Commons for the department’s first Shop with a Cop.
Inside, the children received $100 each to go shopping for gifts for themselves and for others, courtesy of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 30.
One by one, present by present, the carts filled up.
There were Space Invaders Mini Arcade games, stuffed animals, L.O.L. Surprise! balls, video game controllers, Spider-Man headphones, footballs, remote-controlled cars and Funko Pop! vinyl figurines.
Elyria police Lt. Lee Frank, president of FOP Lodge 30, said the police union held fundraisers throughout the year to help pay for the event and help the children have a good holiday.
“It’s something we’d always talked about,” he said, guiding a group of young boys — one of them straining at his hand, excited to inspect almost everything on a nearby shelf — around the toy and electronics departments.
Excited children like Jurell Johnson, 5, grabbed gifts for themselves and for their siblings. As he did, an officer wheeled by with a cart full of Nerf shooters chosen by another child.
Braden Murphy, 8, proudly showed off the three video games he chose, including “Madden NFL 19” and “NBA Live! 19.” Other children clamored for “Minecraft” and “Fortnite,” two other popular video games.
Frank said he believes the event “breaks down barriers between police and youth.”
“They get to shop with officers and maybe have some fun,” he said. “It’s a good day.”