On Tuesday morning, Walmart shoppers stopped to look and comment at a half-dozen unlikely pairs browsing the aisles. Each pair — a middle school student and a uniformed officer from the Umatilla Police Department — worked with a pre-set amount to purchase presents for each member of a family as part of the fifth annual “Shop with a Cop” event.

“We’re out here to help some of the children and families of Umatilla have gifts for Christmas,” Sgt. Bill Wright said. “I know other departments throughout the nation have done this, and we thought this was a good opportunity for us to interact with the kids, help them out and enjoy the day.”

Tuesday, six officers  — Wright, Keri Jarmer, Adam Bredfield, Roger Campbell, Rich Estes and Natalia Tovey — joined the students, and by the end of the morning, shopping bags held gifts from toys and movies to tools and clothes. The funding for the program comes from the Umatilla Police Department Officers Association and donations from Walmart. Participating students are selected by Clara Brownell Middle School and travel to the Hermiston Walmart to help the officers select the perfect item for each member of the family.

“We’re all here volunteering time, and every year it’s been a joy to work with the kids and see them smile,” Wright said. “They’re excited about buying gifts. They’re not selfish at all.”

Cyndee Campana, who heads the promotional committee for Hermiston Walmart, said the event also benefits store employees when they observe the interaction.

“This is something we do for the kids. It’s so much fun to see them shop,” she said. “I was excited when I heard about it, and I hope we continue to do it every year.”

  

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