DeKALB – Alex Dennison, 11, roamed through the aisles of video games at Target. Each item captured his attention.
“Me and my brother are going to have some action,” he said as he put a “Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure” video game pack for the Xbox 360 into his shopping cart.
Shopping with Dennison at that particular moment wasn’t his parents, but officer Mario Nonnenmann of the DeKalb Police Department.
Nonnenmann was one of 19 DeKalb police officers volunteering Sunday for the DeKalb Police Benevolent & Protective Association’s Shop with a Cop.
Each officer was paired with a student in fifth grade or younger, and together, they perused the store. The child, said Angel Reyes, the association’s president, could spend up to $100 on presents for him- or herself or members of their family.
“We realized there are families out that need assistance,” Reyes said. Reyes also is a detective in the DeKalb police.
Shop with a Cop is funded through donations and the association itself, Reyes added.
In the program’s first iteration last year, DeKalb police helped 10 children who came from underprivileged families. This year, it’s been increased to 21. Dennison’s siblings, Clay and Kara, also were paired with police officers.
“My hope is that no kids need help because they are all doing well,” Reyes said. “But we know that’s not the case.”
The children pick out the different items while police officers keep track of them, stating that he is there to help Santa Claus.
In addition to “Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure,” Dennison also picked out monster truck toys for each member of his family, including his mom and dad. However, anything Dennison and Nonnenmann passed would cause the 11-year-old to grab the item and explain something about it to the officer.
“It’s about giving back. It’s fun. A positive impact is what is important to me,” Nonnenmann said. “It’s just fun to watch kids get giddy like this, too.”
A number of Target volunteers and employees were on hand to help the police officers and children, as well, said Brittnie Mason, the manager of security at Target, 2555 Sycamore Road.
Mason said Target does programs such as Shop with a Cop at many of its stores.
“It’s an opportunity for the families who might not be able to afford these gifts otherwise,” Mason said.