OROVILLE – Local kids from Oroville and Tonasket got a chance to mix with law enforcement last Saturday as part of the Shop with a Cop program.
This year the program was hosted by the City of Oroville and the Oroville Police Department, with support from the Oroville School District. Oroville City Councilman David “Mac” McElheran and Oroville Chamber of Commerce Secretary Michelle McEleheren organized the four hour event that matched up kids with law enforcement officers from Oroville, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department and state Fish and Wildlife agency, as well as members from the local U.S. Border Patrol Explorer Post. In addition, Jamie Mikelson, the Oroville Elementary School Principal volunteered to help with the activities.
The day began at 8:30 a.m. with Oroville students joined by kids from Tonasket who arrived by bus in the Oroville Elementary Library. The Oroville Chapter of the Royal Neighbors provided juice and mini muffins and the kids sat down to watch the movie Polar Express. Following the movie everyone moved to the gym where kids, law enforcement, Mikelson and Explorers had several rousing games of dodgeball.
“Do you know what this game teaches us?” asked Councilman McElheran, himself a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
“It teaches us to be honest,” one child answered.
“That’s right, it teaches us ‘integrity,’ doing the right thing even when no one’s watching,” McElheren said, referring to the fact that people who are hit with a ball have to sit down until one of their teammates earns their way back in by catching a ball.
Following dodgeball, the kids all loaded into the Tonasket School Bus, and escorted by Oroville, County and State law enforcement vehicles with sirens sounding and lights flashing, made their way to the Oroville American Legion Post where they were fed a lunch prepared by the Legion. Then it was back into the bus for another parade up Main Street to the Country Store.
Law enforcement, Explorers and Principal Mikelson, with two or three kids each, picked out some winter clothing for each child, whether it be winter coats, boots, shoes, socks, pants or shirts. Each child had a certain budget that could be used to make the purchase and Country Store employees were on hand to help with sizes and answer questions. In addition, each child had a certain amount of money to spend on some toys.
“The program gives law enforcement a chance to positively interact with kids,” said Councilman McElheran. “So often when kids see us it might be during a negative situation. We want them to know that kids can come to us for help when they need it.”
The McElherans raised money to fund the activity. They also met with Oroville Police Chief Todd Hill and Tonasket Police Chief Darren Curtis, as well as the superintendents of both school districts during the planning stage.