FRANCONIA — With COVID-19 restrictions against public gatherings in place and fundraisers for the Franconia Police Benevolent Association's annual Shop with a Cop cancelled, some people wondered if there would be a Shop with a Cop in 2020.
There was, although it was done a little differently.
With people out of a job or having reduced income because of the pandemic, Shop with a Cop was more important than ever, Ofc. Tim Boyle, the PBA president, said.
"It was just to try to make the holidays at least a little bit brighter. We really thought it was important to make sure that we find a way to make this happen," he said.
Instead of families shopping together, as is generally done, children in the families made up wish lists and one parent and one police officer did the shopping for $1,000 worth of needs and wants at the Walmart in Harleysville, he said.
At the end of that shopping trip, the parent took the family needs that had been purchased along home and the wish list items were taken back to the police station to be wrapped.
"On our delivery day, we went to all the homes individually, following all the social distancing guidelines, and delivered the wrapped presents just before Christmas," Boyle said. The deliveries were made with curbside pick-ups, he said.
It was amazing to see the faces of the children as the wrapped gifts kept coming out of the back of the truck, he said.
Along with the items from the shopping day, each of the families received a $500 gift card to Landis Markets and food supplied by JBS for a large holiday meal, Boyle said.
The 15 families that were part of the Shop with a Cop each have at least one child attending a Souderton Area School District elementary school, he said. There was at least one family from each of the district elementary schools, he said. The families are chosen with the help of district elementary principals and school counselors, he said.
Returning major contributors included JBS, Franconia Insurance & Financial Services, East Penn Modifiers Club and R&J Farm Market, Boyle said. Bergey's loaned the officers a box truck to be used to deliver the presents, he said.
"Everybody really stepped up this year to make sure that we could continue the tradition and support the families," he said.
It also was a lot of fun, he said.
"The excitement from the kids and the relief that you could see from the parents and the ability to make the holiday easier, more doable, especially this year, with everything that's been going on, is why we do this," Boyle said, "and it can't be done without all of our supporters."
The group is now looking forward to the 2021 Shop with a Cop "hopefully being back to normal," he said.
Shortly before Christmas, the PBA also contributed about $12,000 worth of adult men's and women's winter coats to Keystone Opportunity Center, he said.
"That's something that we've been doing for the past couple of years," Boyle said.
The PBA started making the adult coats contribution after being told that a lot of children's winter wear is donated each year, but adult coats are also needed, he said.