CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Hurricane Harvey left many families in need, and that need becomes larger over the holidays as Christmas gifts get pushed further down a family's list of priorities.
Charitable operations like Shop with a Cop can help with that. The program runs Dec. 4-20 at various stores around the area, pairing up children with officers to do Christmas shopping.
However, the program is nearly $15,000 under budget and is in need of more volunteers.
The organization has helped 569 children in the Coastal Bend and wants to help more. An organizer with the program said they are reaching out to anyone in law enforcement or related fields such as government officials or firefighters to help them.
"It's not just helping the kids out with their basic needs, it's definitely helping them to realize they're a part of a bigger community of people that care about them and want a better community for them," organizer Tara Mylett said.
Mylett is the executive director of Shop with a Cop in Corpus Christi and said the program aims to bridge the gap between the youth and police officers.
"This way they can see they really are just regular people. They have families. They laugh. They joke with them. They love spending time with them," Mylett said. "By the end of the event you've got a new little buddy."
2017 is different, however, because of Hurricane Harvey. The need in the Coastal Bend is greater, meaning several children are on a waiting list.
"We won't be able to take any more off of the list until we're guaranteed some more funds coming in," Mylett said.
Before the shopping spree begins a child in need is paired with a law enforcement official. Mylett said the connection made could have a lasting impact on the child's life.
"They get to talk to them about what they do and it's really inspired some kids and gives them some goals that they know that they can reach for," Mylett said.
When the shopping cart is full and the duo says their goodbyes, law enforcement, and organizers hope the shopping spree has given them more than Christmas cheer.
"They know that they're there to help them and only do good for them, and to be the good example for them," Mylett said.
Shop with a Cop is also asking for monetary donations in addition to volunteers. The best way to donate or volunteer is to call them at 361-442-4787.
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