Looking for a way to help those in need right here in Bowie?
Consider contributing to the Bowie Police Department’s Shop with a Cop program, which gives underprivileged kids the opportunity to shop for holiday gifts for themselves and their families with one of Bowie’s finest as a purchasing companion. After shopping, the police help kids wrap their gifts and all participants are treated to lunch at an area restaurant.
The program started three years ago when the Bowie Police Department was approached by Target and asked to participate in this nationwide program, according to Sgt. Bennie Henderson, the department's community relations officer.
Target donated $1,700 which was enough to sponsor 17 kids.
“It was just a wonderful feeling because you would think kids ages 6-12 would buy gifts for themselves, but they were buying gifts for their siblings and parents,” said Henderson. “You almost had to talk them into getting gifts for themselves.”
The first year was extra special as there had been a fire in old Bowie with a family losing all their possessions right before the holiday, Henderson said. The three children in that family were able to participate in the event.
Last year, Target donated $1,200 for the Shop with a Cop program, enough for 12 kids to participate. Henderson knew he could not help fewer kids than the previous year—he wanted to help more.
“We put it out to the community and raised $1,500 in community donations—we were able to help 27 kids,” Henderson said.
This year, Target has donated $1,000 and Henderson has once again raised his goal. He is hoping to raise an additional $2,000 in community donations so that 30 Bowie children can participate in the Shop with a Cop program.
Henderson says there is a misconception about affluence in Bowie. The city has its share of families that are struggling—single parents, families who are living with grandparents or other families due to layoffs—and Henderson wants to see those families have a pleasant holiday too.
“You want to help these folks have a nice Christmas, to have something to look forward to,” Henderson said.
Children are selected to participate in the program through the Bowie Food Pantry and Bowie Youth and Family Services.
Anyone interested in donating to the program can print out the Shop with a Cop form attached to this article and mail it to the address shown. All donations are fully tax deductible and receipts will be sent in the mail. Residents can also stop by the police department in the ground floor of city hall and leave donations at the front desk.