A shopping spree is an exciting prospect at any age, but just imagine what it must be like for a kid—especially a kid who could use some extra cheer this holiday season. On Saturday, Dec. 14, an estimated 50 kids and nearly 60 Maui Police Department (MPD) officers and cadets will whisk through the aisles of the Target store in Kahului during this year’s “Shop with a Cop” event.
The annual holiday shopping spree was launched on Maui 16 years ago by Bruce McDonald of Coldwell Banker Island Properties. McDonald is a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Kahului, which sponsors the event every year. “It’s the best day of the year for me,” he said. “The sheer excitement and the expressions on the kids’ faces throughout is priceless.”
Here’s how it works: The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui selects kids who could use a little boost during the holidays. On Dec. 14, the children and their family members will arrive at Target bright and early to have breakfast as they await the much-anticipated main event: Santa’s arrival. After Santa makes his grand entrance, he calls each child’s name and gives them a personalized wrapped gift. Then, the child is paired with a shopping buddy—a uniformed police officer or cadet—who takes them around the store to pick out other presents with a $100 Target gift card.
Apart from spreading holiday cheer, Shop with a Cop aims to build trust between kids and law enforcement and change any negative perceptions of police officers. “The true accomplishment is having these kids see the MPD officers as our friends and that they are here to help us,” he said.
McDonald says the Kiwanis mission—“changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time”—inspired him to bring Shop with a Cop to Maui in 2004. While he may have spearheaded the program, he says it’s far from a one-man show. “A person is only as good as who is helping and I have an excellent like-minded team all around from Target, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui, MPD, and of course, the Kiwanis Club of Kahului.”
In addition to supporting Shop with a Cop every year, the Kiwanis Club of Kahului sponsors two key clubs (the oldest and largest student-led service program for high school students) at King Kekaulike High School and Baldwin High School. The club also participates in the Maui Food Bank’s Aloha BackPack Buddies program at Wailuku Elementary School (the program provides healthy weekend meals to elementary school students from food-insecure homes throughout the academic year) and has raised more than $100,000 for Maui Memorial Medical Center’s pediatrics department through annual golf tournaments.
The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui supports the Children’s Justice Center of Maui, a program of the Hawaii State Judiciary that was established to ensure a fair and neutral process for the handling of reports of child abuse (there are five centers statewide: West Hawaii, East Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and Maui; the Maui center also serves children living on Molokai and Lanai). The nonprofit also promotes community awareness of child abuse and neglect and provides funding for direct services to help children recover from the damaging effects of their abuse.
Want to help brighten the holidays for a deserving child? McDonald is still accepting cash donations for this year’s Shop with a Cop. With more financial assistance, more kids can participate, he explained. To learn more about the Shop with a Cop program or to make a donation, contact McDonald at Bruce@BruceOnMaui.com. For more information about the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui, www.mauicjc.org or call 986-8634.
The Maui News – November 11, 2019