Walmart invites Issaquah students to ‘Shop with a Cop’

December 18, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

First grader Cyrus Comia, 7, one of 10 Issaquah Valley Elementary School students on the ‘Shop with a Cop’ outing, takes toys to a cart as Issaquah Police Sgt. Jeff Johnson helps keep him on his gift-card budget. Comia also bought some socks for his grandmother. By Greg Farrar

In what was a scene straight out of a schoolyard ballfield, 10 officers from the Issaquah and Bellevue police departments stood in a line just waiting to get picked.

Across from them sat 10 Issaquah Valley Elementary School students who held all the power.

One by one, the students chose an officer to pair up with and as soon as everyone had a buddy, it was time to “Shop with a Cop.”

The children from Issaquah Valley, which has one of the largest populations of students on free and reduced-price lunch in the district, were invited by the new Walmart store at the Factoria Mall in Bellevue to pick out some early Christmas gifts with the help of local law enforcement officers on Dec. 12.

Walmart store manager Paul Cox handed each child a $100 gift card and sent them, and their police officers, on a shopping spree around the store.

Issaquah Valley Elementary School

Justin Allen, 10, knew exactly what he wanted.

First stop was the toy aisle where Justin thrust a remote control helicopter into his shopping cart. Next, it was the electronics section, where he chose some DVDs and a video game. Finally, it was to the sports section to pick up a new skateboard.

He moved at rapid speed, placing things in his shopping cart, with no concern about the price tag. And that’s where Issaquah Police Department officer Robert Hendrickson came in, whipping out his phone to calculate the totals of the purchases.

“He wanted everything,” Hendrickson said with a laugh. “It’s important that the kids understand the importance of money, and I think Justin truly appreciated the opportunity and so that was good.”

While most of the kids grabbed gifts for themselves, and understandably so, the first stop that 7-year-old Cyrus Comia made was the clothing area to buy something for his grandmother.

“She just doesn’t have that many socks,” Cyrus said as he placed Grandma’s new socks in his shopping cart.

Cyrus’ shopping partner, Issaquah Police Department Sgt. Jeff Johnson, said he was touched by the boy’s kind gesture.

“He knew he wanted to buy something for Grandma, so we made sure we bought those,” he said. “He was definitely on a mission.”

Cyrus’ mom, Tiffany Ingersoll, said she was grateful to be involved with the event and knows that it will be something that her son will never forget.

“Just because of our life circumstances right now, I was very disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to get something exciting for my children, and this has just been amazing,” she said.

She added that Cyrus’ father is in the military and doesn’t expect to be back for Christmas, so she was appreciative of the time he got to spend with an officer.

“Just to have a strong male presence to go shopping with, I don’t even have the words to describe what this means, what kind of gift that is for my son,” she said.

Cyrus ended up filling his cart with a multitude of other goodies for himself, including a helicopter similar to the one that Justin purchased.

As each of the kids went through the checkout line, the totals often exceeded the $100 they were allotted.

None of the kids were asked to put something back or forced to prioritize what they wanted most. Each officer, from both departments, simply took out their credit cards to personally make up any difference, no questions asked.

Gwendolyn Wilson had just come to Walmart to do some Christmas shopping, but seeing the kindness of the officers and the smiling faces of the children, made a simple trip an extraordinary one.

“I used to raise seven grandkids, and I know that sometimes it can be tough for families, and it just touched me,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes. “It’s just wonderful when people can help. This is amazing.”

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