When Kathy Paul heard her son Caden was one of 24 Janesville elementary school students picked for Shop with a Cop this year, she couldn’t help but get emotional.
“When he got chosen, I was speechless,” she said.
Shortly after Caden was born, his family was told he had medical complications because of lead paint poisoning. Caden, now 9, has struggled to develop communication skills.
“He’s not the typical 9-year-old. He’s smart as can be, but he has a lot of speech and language problems,” Paul said. “He’s come a long way, and he really does deserve this.”
Janesville-based Blain’s Farm & Fleet gave $200 gift cards to each student chosen for Wednesday’s shopping spree and provided dinner.
Caden and the other students were nominated by their teachers and schools. Nominees must be students who put forth effort and have a good attitude at school.
Two students were selected from each elementary school in Janesville.
A local law enforcement officer joined each student and helped them pick out gifts, which ranged from Barbie dolls to cheese puffs.
The officers came from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, Janesville and Edgerton police departments, and other agencies.
Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan said Wednesday’s event was the eighth year for Shop with a Cop.
“This program is one of those things where the kids will see officers in a different light and see us in uniform but have a really positive experience,” he said. “What better way than to give them some money to buy some Christmas presents?”
Jim Jelinek, an officer with the Town of Milton Police Department, has participated in the shopping spree for three years. He said the kids make it worthwhile for him.
“Watching the excitement of the kids and seeing it in their faces when they’re picking out what they want for themselves is awesome, but the guy I had today picked out something for his brothers and sisters first,” he said.
“It’s a joy to see their faces light up and being able to do this with them.”
Sullivan said the event helps both the students and officers have a good Christmas.
“It makes the holidays a lot better,” he said.
Noah Pace, 10, who attends Madison Elementary School, said his favorite part of Shop with a Cop was getting to spend $200.
Pace, who was paired with Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson, bought collectibles, games and clothes. His total came to $200.49. Lucky for him, Knudson spotted him 50 cents so he could pay the cashier.
Pace said the sheriff did a good job helping him pick out his gifts.
While Christmas is still almost two weeks away, Pace said he’s already primed for a quality holiday.
“It’s going to be a good Christmas.”