Anchorage first responders help homeless families in annual holiday shopping spree
It’s an event many first responders look forward to entire the holiday season. Dozens from the Anchorage Fire and Police Departments participated in the Shop with a Cop and the Shop with a Firefighter events Friday morning at the Midtown Fred Meyer.
About 50 kids from local homeless shelters were given $125 each to spend however they pleased. Most of them used it to buy gifts for their family.
Six-year-old Loma DiMassimo was shopping for her three brothers and parents. She was paired with APD Officer Sean Keating, who has participated in the event for 11 years.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do as a police officer,” he said.
The pair pushed their cart around the aisles, collecting clothes and toys along the way.
“Can this be for me?” said Loma, holding a toy shopping cart.
“Of course, it can,” Keating said.
Loma’s purchases included an outfit for her little brother, a Star Wars toy for her brother and a board game for her mom. Two of Loma’s brothers also participated in the event. The DiMassimo family lives at the Salvation Army’s McKinnell House.
“Don’t look! Don’t you dare,” Loma said to her brothers as she attempted to hide their presents from view.
After purchasing a shopping cart full of gifts, Loma and Keating got help wrapping all of the presents. Loma said she was able to find something for everyone in her family.
“Everybody got three things,” she said.
The Anchorage Police Department Employees Association and the Anchorage Fire Department Local 1264 sponsored the shopping spree. Fred Meyer also helped the unions pay for the event.
Keating said the event is a chance to change kids’ perceptions of police.
“People are going through some bad stuff when we show up, and kids see that,” said Keating. “So, it’s awesome that these kids get to see us when they’re excited to be here, and [we’re] excited to hang out with them.”
This was the 17th year of the Shop with a Cop event.
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