Shop with a Cop, an annual program sponsored by the Perry Police Department, is set to return on Dec. 15.

Detective Laura Deaton talked about the upcoming program during the open forum portion of the Nov. 5 Perry City Council meeting.

“It is a great program where people can nominate a child that they feel is in need, or isn’t going to get quite the Christmas that maybe most of us have gotten to experience in our lifetime,” Deaton said.

Nomination forms can be picked up at the police department or the Perry Elementary School. Deaton said once the forms are turned in, she will help go through them to select the number of children the program can help this year.

That number, she said, is determined by the amount of donations that come in to support Shop with a Cop.

Once the children are chosen, they meet at Perry Elementary, where they are paired up with a police officer, first responder or firefighter.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to interact with the officers. It’s a great opportunity for us to get to know who the kids are, what they’re like,” Deaton said. “I really feel it’s a good way for us to connect with kids and let them see another side of us.”

The children make a Christmas list for everyone in their family that they live with. The children and officers then go to Perry businesses to buy gifts for everyone on the list. Deaton added that once the children pick out gifts for their families, they can then pick out one for themselves.

The gifts are taken back to the elementary school, where the officers help wrap the gifts.

The children are also typically sent home with a box containing enough items to cook a Christmas meal, Deaton said, thanks to donations from groups like Tyson Fresh Meats, Fareway and Hy-Vee.

“Shop with a Cop is also a great way to promote family-time together,” she said.

Deaton added that the program can only continue through donations from the community. Donation letters were sent out to local businesses.

“ We like to help as many children as we can, but again, without generous donations we can only afford so many children at a time,” Deaton said.

Those looking to donate to Shop with a Cop can send checks to the Perry Police Department, Attn: Detective Deaton #677, 908 Willis Avenue, Perry, IA 50220.

All donations and nomination forms should be turned in by Nov. 30.

“Thank you to you and the whole department and everybody who supports it. It’s a great outreach program for the police department,” Mayor John Andorf said.

“I feel it’s very important for us to get to know the kids, they’re the ones who are building the founding blocks for what is going to continue in this city,” Deaton added.