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Jonesboro Rotary Club/Jonesboro FOP Shop with a Cop happens this weekend
JONESBORO, Ark. – The Rotary Club/FOP Shop with a Cop is an event Nathan Coleman looks forward to every year.
“It kicks off the Christmas spirit for me, moreso than anything else we do in the year,” Coleman said.
This year’s event is set for 10 AM Saturday morning, Dec. 7 at Academy Sports+Outdoors,, 2800 Parkwood Road in Jonesboro.
In addition to being a sergeant at JPD, Coleman is the president of the Jonesboro Fraternal Order of the Police and also the President of the Arkansas Municipal Police Association. Among his many titles includes constant responsibilities that he admits his wife isn’t always thrilled to see him undertake! But one of his favorite self-imposed responsibilities is the Jonesboro Rotary Club/Jonesboro Fraternal Order of Police Shop with a Cop event. It’s the experiences he and other officers have had that keeps them coming back each year.
“There was this little kid, very young,” Coleman recalled. “One of my rookies said he didn’t feel well but I talked him into coming out. This little kid was such an awesome kid. When it was all said and done, the kid was telling him bye and he ran up to [the officer] and said, “Officer Morgan, can I go home with you?” It choked him up. He was talking to the kid on his level and trying not to cry. He contacted me later and said he wanted to thank me for doing this. He said he was glad he came and he’s been back ever since.”
50 area children have been selected by guidance counselors, school resource officers, and teachers based on who would benefit the most from the experience. Each youth normally gets $100 to spend on anything their heart desires while getting their own personal police escort to any location they wish to visit. Thanks to the generosity of Academy Sports, an added $40 gift card has been given to each participant ($2000 in gift cards), bringing their budget up to $140 dollars.
Other local organizations and individuals have helped along the way, as well. Woodsman Life contacted FOP and will come make breakfast for the officers and kids at the lodge. Following the food, the Rotary Club Jonesboro FOP Shop-with-a-Cop will kick off at Academy Sports+Outdoors. All of the young shoppers get complimentary GiGi’s Cupcakes afterward, too.
It doesn’t take long into the trip for the officer to see the potential impact on the youth.
“You see where their hearts are at,” Coleman said. “We used to go to Chick-Fil-A and these kids had never been there. They’ve never been given money and told you can buy whatever you want. Some of the things they spend their money on may not seem practical for us but it’s what they want and it’s special to them. If they want to get $100 worth of candy from Candy Craze, they can. Some of them don’t even think about themselves at all. They bring lists to buy gifts for someone else, like mothers, brothers and sisters, because they’re excited they get to buy Christmas gifts. There’s so many different experiences.”
A fundraiser earlier this year helped raise money to make the event possible. Coleman said a local man, Preston Marthey, offered his services to help prepare and sell baby-back ribs to the community. Around $800 was raised for children through this.
Trumann police also helped by raising money for No Shave November to give several Poinsett County kids a chance to come along, too.
“We just hope all the kids and the officers have a good experience and want to come back and do it again this year,” Coleman said. “So far, the overall response has been really good.”
Shopping is scheduled to begin at 10 AM at Academy Sports and will continue throughout the morning at various locations in Jonesboro.
Blue Crew, Stadium Autobody and Car-Mart are doing a toy drive for more children and families. Last year they brought in almost 500 gifts and Christmas was covered for 12 different families. Their toy drive is underway.
All photos courtesy Jonesboro FOP