Elizabeth Hailu couldn’t wait until she got home to put on her new unicorn headband.
Immediately after leaving accessory store Claires in Londonderry Mall on Wednesday, Hailu pulled it out of the bag and Const. Michelle Patenaude helped her put it on.
The Grade 4 student at St. Gerard School and Patenaude paired up at Londonderry Mall on Wednesday to check off holiday gifts from Hailu’s list — and pick up a few things for herself — at the fourth annual CopShops event.
The event paired approximately 26 students from three northeast Edmonton schools — each equipped with a $200 mall gift card — with Edmonton Police officers for an afternoon in order to foster understanding and teamwork between the kids and police.
The students were selected based on family need as well as their leadership in their communities and schools.
“It’s very heartwarming at this time of this time of year,” said Sergeant Dan Tames on Wednesday. “It’s important for the children, but it’s also it’s also really impactful on our members as well.”
Hailu said her afternoon of shopping helped her buy gifts like her parents usually do for her at her favourite store, Hudson’s Bay, and also get things they wouldn’t normally pick out for her or themselves.
Patenaude said she wanted to take part because it’s a chance to spend time with kids in a more positive way than she usually does.
“It’s just like a nice switch for us because a lot of times when you see people, it’s not in good circumstances,” she said. “Around the holidays, it’s nice to be with kids (and) you kind of have a positive experience with them”
Another student, Breanna Klause, in Grade 2 at St. Gerard, picked out earrings for her mother with Tames that afternoon, as well as a necklace with a hanging ‘M’ for ‘mom,’ she said.
After they are done shopping, the kids gather together again to wrap their gifts in time for the holidays.
“(Officers) are overwhelmed by the generosity of the children and the gifts that the children want to purchase,” said Tames. “It really gives you a sense that we sometimes take things for granted and (the chance to see) things through the eyes of a child.”