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Murrieta Kids Enjoy Shop With a Cop

This marks the first year that Murrieta police take children Christmas shopping.

Murrieta police Officer Aaron Harwick grew up a foster child.

Years later, serving as a San Diego police officer, Harwick became involved in a countywide effort: Shop With A Cop. Annually during the holiday season, children were taken on shopping sprees.

A number of police agencies in San Diego County take part in these events.

"It is something I'm used to doing; I am used to giving back to the community," Harwick said.

Since joining to the Murrieta Police Department six years ago, Harwick envisioned getting the same sort of event off the ground.

This marks the inaugural year the Murrieta Police Officers Association is bringing the program to local children.

Harwick said they put the word out through their chaplain program and to local teachers, and came up with the names of 10 children. They added an 11th.

donated $1,000 and donated $1,000 toward giving the children a holiday season they might not otherwise have.

Chick-Fil-A hosted a breakfast for the officers and the children before they left in police cars to spend $100 each at Walmart.

"It went awesome," said Murrieta Chick-fil-A owner Jenny Jones.

"It was just a happy occasion.

"We want to make it ... an annual tradition," Jones said.

Jones said it made her happy to donate the food to the children and police.

"It was just great to see their smiles ... and seeing police officers being their role models."

Harwick said the officers have as much fun as the children at the shopping events.

"It is neat to see the officers with these kids. They almost always go into their own pockets," Harwick said, adding that they were all on off-duty time Saturday.

From past experiences, Harwick said kids often spend their money on others. One year, a child spent his entire gift card on groceries for his home.

In the event that did happen today, he said Santa was waiting back at the station with another surprise: an additional wrapped gift for each child.

Harwick, a chairperson of the new MPOA Shop With A Cop program, said he envisions the program growing in Southwest Riverside County, and would love for other agencies to get involved.

"At one point in San Diego, we were serving 300 to 400 kids a year," he said.

--Maggie Avants and Daniel Lane contributed to this report.

Anne December 04, 2011 at 01:06 AM
What a great program!
Bill Burchard December 04, 2011 at 02:42 PM
This is a wonderful idea. I’m very proud of Officer Harwick and the Murrieta Police Department for doing this.
Nancy December 05, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Wow this is awesome! Thank you Murrieta Police Department, you rock!

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