“On the 6th of December we’ll go to Lupita’s,” said Cedar City police sergeant David Bulloch, who explained that since the beginning of November, volunteers have waited tables at The Pizza Factory, Applebee’s, and Chili’s.
“Then on the 13th we’ll go to Winger’s,” he added.
Cedar City police officer, and “Tip a Cop” volunteer Justin Ludlow said the fundraising goal is $10,000 this year. He said that would allow the “Shop with a Cop” program to help exactly 100 Iron County children to have a happy holiday.
Though Ludlow said he has missed a couple of years during his eight years of service with CCPD, he said he has volunteered to serve tables three years, and shop with children six years.
He said serving tables was a bit of a growing experience for him, and one that he was happy to have had.
“Being a server is not easy work,” said Ludlow. “I have never done that kind of work before.”
Winger’s Roadhouse Grill server Kaci Hunter said that she has had a lot of fun working with the officers in previous years when they came to help wait tables.
“You get to boss the cops around,” she said. “Can you go take these drinks over there, and run my food – This table needs to be bussed.”
Store manager Ina Gayson said it’s all “in good fun”, and that volunteers seem take teasing in stride and work hard while they’re there.
She said all of the Winger’s servers who work when they do the “Tip a Cop” fundraiser for “Shop with a Cop” sign up as volunteers for the night and 100 percent of their tips are donated to the program.
“This year I didn’t have enough spaces,” Gayson said. “Because everyone wanted to sign up for the Shop with a Cop fundraiser.”
She said she is proud of her employees – who not only work so hard as volunteers at Winger’s for the “Tip a Cop” night – but then go and spend more volunteer hours at Wal-Mart wrapping children’s gifts for them after they get to pick out all of their holiday goodies.
Bulloch said that once all of the money is raised for the program, they purchase gift cards in $100 increments, and assign one card to each child chosen to participate that year.
Rather than doing applications from the community, Bulloch said children are referred to “Shop with a Cop by school representatives who know of a child in need.
“A lot of teachers will see what kids throughout the year need help,” Bulloch said. “We have gotten on board with Child Protective Services, and sometimes they’ll call us and say ‘Hey we know this family and I know they’re really hurting this year,’ but the majority of the list comes from the school district.”
Bulloch said that the “Shop with a Cop” morning’s start early, at 6 a.m., when children and public safety officers meet up at Wal-Mart and are paired off.
From there, he said they travel to Canyon View High School for breakfast in their official vehicles, and the children get to play with the lights and sirens on the way.
After the full breakfast provided by cafeteria workers and the ladies of the Cedar City Elks Lodge, everyone goes back to Wal-Mart for a shopping spree.
Ludlow said that in the past there had been nights when he worked from 10 p.m. the night before “Shop with a Cop,” until 6 a.m. the morning of the program, and still gone to shop with the children.
“I think that just goes to show how ‘worth it’ it is to us to be able to go out with them,” he said.
Cedar City police officer Jason Thomas said that it’s nice to spend time with children who may otherwise be scared or intimidated by police, and show them that there is nothing to fear from law enforcement.
“A lot of times the only experience a child has had with a member of law enforcement is their parents telling them ‘You better buckle up so the police don’t pull us over’,” Thomas said.
Ludlow said the best part of the program is spending time shopping with the children, and getting to see how loving and selfless they are sometimes.
“I have seen kids who just wanted to buy food for their home,” said Ludlow. “I have seen kids who wanted to buy toys for their siblings rather than themselves.
“It’s a heartwarming thing to see that here you have a kid who has nothing, and still his biggest concern when he has the opportunity to get something, is to get it for someone else,” he added.
There are only two “Tip a Cop” events left for the season this year, Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant on Friday, and Winger’s Roadhouse and Grill on December 13.
For more information contact Sergeant David Bulloch at, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at (435) 865-5128