Area children 'Shop with a Cop' and take Ypsilanti Township Walmart by storm
With smiles on their faces and $100 to burn, teams of Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies, volunteers and some lucky kids took a local Walmart by storm Wednesday evening for the annual Shop with a Cop event.
Courtesy of Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office
About 30 kids and their sheriff’s deputies made their way around the Ypsilanti Township Walmart, 2515 Ellsworth Road, as a part of the annual gathering. Each child was allotted $100 to spend on gifts for themselves, a family member or a friend with about 45 minutes to do it.
Police commander Dieter Heren said all of the deputies and police personnel who spent the afternoon with the kids loved the experience. It was hard to find anyone who didn’t have a smile once the kids ran into the store, Heren said.
“It’s a joy to be out here with the kids and interact with them and see the excitement on their face,” Heren said.
Sheriff’s deputies met with their shopping buddies at the Marriott at Eagle Crest at 4 p.m. Wednesday, where they talked, did crafts and enjoyed pizza, pop and cookies. Each child had an opportunity to get his or her picture taken with Santa, who showed up a few minutes before 4:30 p.m. to great excitement.
After about an hour of getting to know each other and opening a gift bag provided by the sheriff’s office, the kids, deputies and volunteers piled onto two school buses and got an escort from the hotel with police vehicles leading the caravan to the Walmart parking lot.
Before the buses took the kids to the store, Lt. Jim Anuszkiewicz let the shoppers know the biggest rule for the trip.
“You can spend that money on yourself, you can spend that money on a family member or you can spend that money on a friend,” he said. “But, what you can’t do is buy anything the deputies want.”
After the 45 minutes were up, the students were bused back to the Marriott, where they wrapped their gifts and enjoyed some more pizza and pop before going home with their families.
Heren might have had the most determined shopper, often struggling to keep up with her as she grabbed dolls, boots, candy canes and other toys and threw them into the cart saying, “There’s no time to lose!” Heren often looked bemused as he implored her to stay calm and try to avoid running over other shoppers as she sprinted down the aisles with the cart.
However, all of the kids — between the ages of 7 and 12, who were from the Ypsilanti, Lincoln or Willow Run school districts and were referred by the schools — had some sort of plan ready when they got to the store.
Amani Wardlow had gotten gifts for his mother, father and two sisters and had made a couple new friends, his deputy and Eastern Michigan University sophomore Traci Breitmeyer. Amani said he was pretty happy with all the things he had gotten.
“I got a truck and some candles and a doggie,” Amani said.
Breitmeyer, a member of the Delta Zeta sorority, was one of many sorority or fraternity members volunteering to help out the kids and deputies. She said the idea for getting involved had been brought forward by one of her sorority sisters and many others decided to participate.
She said it was easy shopping with Amani — he had brought in a list of things to buy.
“It’s been fun, he’s sticking to his list,” she said. “He’s got a plan and he’s going for it.”