'Shop with a Cop' saved from brink of elimination

Dec 9, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

By the end of October, local organizers weren't sure Riverton's annual Shop with a Cop event was going to happen this year.

"We lost all of our state funding ... because of budget cuts," Riverton Police Department Capt. Eric Murphy said. "We weren't going to be able to do it."

Murphy had resigned himself to canceling the holiday shopping spree for needy families when he got a phone call from a representative at Devon Energy who was looking for a charity to sponsor.

"Literally that morning I had talked to the chief (and said) we have no money," Murphy said. "Then Devon gave us $2,000."

Next, the local Elks Lodge promised to donate "at least that much" money to the effort. The Riverton Police Foundation offered funding too, and $500 came in from Lander Middle School.

Soon, Murphy said money was pouring in from civic groups and residents throughout the county.

"All these other people are stepping up," he said. "I'll come in and have a pile of checks on my desk. People are just coming in and giving."

He said he's already surpassed the $4,000 he usually collects for Shop with a Cop.

"It's crazy," he said, thanking those who decided to give. "If it wasn't for our community this year, we wouldn't be able to do it."

Wendy Hopkin, who helped organize the donation from the LMS Cub Pride Store with her co-worker Sherrie Cox, said they chose to give to Shop with a Cop because they knew it was a reputable charity that would benefit children in Fremont County.

"We know how the money is spent, and we know it's a worthwhile endeavor," Hopkin said. "The students get to go out with a police officer and pick out something meaningful for a family member.

"I've heard stories about that; it means a lot to the kids, to be able to do that for their families."

Murphy said people usually sign up to participate in the Shop with a Cop event, but he also identifies families in need throughout the year, collecting names from school resource officers and family services groups.

"I'll call these places and (ask if they) have some families they know of that could use the money," he said. "I'll call the family and ask if they want to be part of it."

Each child who participates gets to spend a designated amount of money for each family member. The children don't handle the cash --instead, they shop with a police officer who keeps track of the budget.

"I hope it makes a huge difference," Murphy said.

The event is scheduled tentatively for Dec. 21 this year. For more information, call Murphy at 856-4891.

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