After a hugely successful first annual Shop With a Cop event in December 2020, the Laramie Police Department is continuing to find ways to support the children of Albany County.
At this event, 27 children who are students of ACSD1 were given $100 each to spend on whatever they liked – most spent some on themselves and some on gifts for their friends and family. The children were able to spend their time shopping with a member of many different law enforcement agencies from Albany County, including officers from the Laramie Police Department, UW Police Department, Highway Patrol, and Albany County Sheriff’s Office. Each family was also provided with groceries to make a full holiday meal with their loved ones at home. “This event was a great collaboration between local law enforcement agencies, ACSD1, Wal-Mart, The Laramie Police Department Foundation, and all of the local businesses and individuals who donated. I hope the students enjoyed shopping with a “cop” as much as the officers enjoyed shopping with them,” says Officer Alex Bailey, who coordinated the event in 2020.
Officer Alex Bailey, who was heavily involved with the planning of the 2020 SWAC event. Picture courtesy of Alex Bailey.
Due to the abundance of support and donations, the Laramie Police Department Foundation had a large amount of funding leftover after the event. “It was an overwhelming success as far as involvement and fundraising goes,” says Assistant Police Chief Robert Terry.
According to Terry, the Foundation followed the lead of other departments around the country and decided to donate that funding to the school district. In total, the Foundation donated nearly $9,000 to ACSD1 to continue to support students and their families.
Several members of Albany County law enforcement along with Walmart employees and ACSD1 students at the 2020 ‘Shop With a Cop’ event. Photo courtesy of Rhianna Handschu
Lisa Theis, the Student Success Liaison at the Laramie Middle School, was tasked with figuring out how best to use this large amount of funding. Theis explained that her position was created years ago to be the connection between students’ home and school life. As she navigated this new position, students began to share some of the major stressors in their lives outside of the classroom. “If we can alleviate some of that stress, kids were in a better place to learn, or to engage with peers,” says Theis.
The funding donated from the Foundation will be used for a large variety of things to benefit students. Things like a new pair of shoes, a new belt, or supplies that are needed to start the school year are all made available to students through the “Student Support Center” – the name of Theis’ room at Laramie Middle School. Financial assistance for families who need help paying bills or buying groceries is also what donations such as this one from the Foundation are used for. Theis also mentioned that they were able to use some of that money to cover the cost of registration and insurance for a single mother who had been the recipient of a donated car. “Our biggest role is to even the playing field for all kids,” she says
Programs like this wouldn’t exist without support and partnerships from agencies around the community, and Theis is excited to partner with the Laramie Police Department. “I can’t say enough how incredible the Police Department and the Foundation is. To think of our families when there are so many other amazing and deserving agencies in our community they could have selected is pretty heartwarming,” says Theis. “I am so grateful.”
By Rhianna Handschu for This is Laramie.