Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

The spirit of giving

by Brad Lindberg Staff Writer

December 19, 2013

THE GROSSE POINTES AND HARPER WOODS — Dirty Harry couldn’t have made their day better.

Fifty law enforcement officers wearing red and white Santa hats served as personal shoppers for an equal number of special needs children during Shop With a Cop, Friday, Dec. 13, a lucky day for the Christmas spirit of giving.

Each child received a free $100 shopping spree accompanied by his or her own uniformed police companion at Target, Eastland Center.

Shop With a Cop came courtesy of officers from more than one dozen jurisdictions, the department store and fundraisers sponsored by Fraternal Order of Police Grosse Pointe Lodge 102.

Sean Burdt, 7, of the City of Grosse Pointe, got Jake and the Never Land Pirates action figures for himself and a Barbie Doll for his sister, Cara, 6.

“He talked about this with his sister and what he was going to get her,” said their mother, Sarah Burdt.

Officers from each of the Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flat Rock, Macomb County Community College, Milford, Warren, Wayne County and Woodhaven donated their time.

“It’s simple — it’s for the kids,” said Milford Sgt. Scott Tarasiewicz. “It’s a cliche, but it’s legitimately for the kids. A lot of guys get on the job to help kids.”

Shores Sgt. Dan Pullen helped Mekhi Gates, 9, a student at Tyrone Elementary in Harper Woods, choose his first bicycle. It has tires with deep tread for extra grip.

“I’ll ride it to school,” Gates said.

Farms PSO Frank Zielinski volunteered, too. As the father of a 3-year-old daughter, he knows that teaching children lessons of Christmas involves more than giving toys.

“Shop With a Cop brings a sense of receiving something through the spirit of Christmas,” Zielinski said.

Officers also want to establish bonds with youngsters.

“We’re here to help and nurture people along,” Zielinski said. “This is one way to show kids we’re here to help.”

Because more than twice as many children signed up for this year’s spree than last year, lodge president, City Officer Joe Adams, called in extra officers from other agencies.

“It’s going better than I expected,” said Farms Officer Veronica Cashion, event coordinator.

This was the second year Officer Brian Conigliaro of Grosse Pointe Woods public safety volunteered.

“It was a great time last year,” he said. “With the kids, why would you not come?”

Harper Woods Officer Dan Schewe and his K-9 partner, Xander, won the popularity contest with children.

“He loves children,” Schewe said of the dog, a German shepherd. “To have the interaction with the kids and the dog, the kids get such smiles on their faces.”

Trinity Transportation supplied a bus to help pick up the children.

Target donated gift cards through its Heroes and Helpers campaign.

“Target will donate more than $200,000 worth of Target gift cards to public safety organizations in almost 200 communities across the country,” said Danielle Faulkner, asset protection supervisor at the Eastland store. “I’m excited to help create this event and be a part of it.”

The Detroit BBQ Company donated food for a free luncheon at Farms Pier Park after everyone finished shopping.