ST. CHARLES – As he shopped on Saturday alongside several St. Charles police officers, Logan Gagnepain, 12, said he planned to at least browse the video game aisle at Super Target in St. Charles during the department's first Shop with a Cop event.
"This is my first Shop with a Cop and I've gotta say this is very generous of them," he said.
Members of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police Chapter 27 – the St. Charles Police Department's union – partnered with Super Target to shop for toys with six children whose families are being assisted by Lazarus House in St. Charles. Seventeen police officers showed up Saturday to go shopping, and only three children were able to make it. Det. Jerry Schomer, union president, said an illness and possibly the weather kept a few families at home, but officers still planned to give them gift certificates and a stocking filled with gifts.
Schomer said the union donated $500 toward the shopping spree while Target donated $200 and offered to give a 20 percent discount on all items purchased Saturday. Officer Bridget McCowan, who helped organize the department's first Shop with a Cop, said she hoped make it an annual event that grows each year.
She said Super Target was especially generous in helping coordinate the event because it was put together somewhat last-minute. Store manager Evan Lenchner said in addition to the discount and $200, the store also donated wrapping paper and food from the store's cafe. Target volunteers were also on hand to assist with shopping.
"We want this to happen every year," he said. "Next year, we hope to give $500 to $1,000."
St. Charles Police Chief Jim Lamkin said he had done a Shop with a Cop event while working in Elgin and wanted to bring it St. Charles.
"This is probably one of the nicest things these guys can do. I'm really proud of them," he said. "I did this when I was younger and never forgot it."
The three children who were able to make it to Super Target on Saturday picked up a variety of gifts – including some to give to their family members. Hannah Gagnepain, 11, picked up a present for her mom, along with a new basketball, a Nintendo DS game and a popcorn maker.
Johnathan Mosley, 11, got the top gift on his list – a new Xbox gaming system.
McCowan said she only contacted Super Target about a month ago and wasn't sure what to expect for the first event.
"For their employees to come out and pull this off was more than I expected. [The officers'] support of this is priceless," she said. "Next year, we're going to be doing fundraising for this and working to find avenues to fundraise so we can help more children next year."