January 18, 2022

Police taking final nominations for Shop with a Cop

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Cortland police Sgt. Tony Natoli, left, and Officer Jesse Abbott look through nominations for “Shop with a Cop” on Friday at Bru 64 on Main Street. The event lets children of families who have faced hardships go shopping for Christmas presents with Cortland police officers in December.

This year has been a hard one for many people, maybe because of the coronavirus pandemic, maybe for other reasons. See it from a child’s eyes, especially a child who may have health problems or whose family faces hard times.

Cortland’s police will try to help, and you can suggest by Tuesday the kids they should take on a shopping trip.

Cortland Community Oriented Policing Officer Jesse Abbott and other Cortland police officers will look to give back to children in December with the second Shop with a Cop event hosted by the Office of Community Oriented Policing. The event allows children to go shopping at Cortlandville’s Walmart with police officers and pick out toys, within a budget, for themselves and at least one item for a family member.

Abbott said he had about 70 nominations by Friday and plans on choosing about 35 kids — all of whom must attend school in the Cortland Enlarged City School District.

To make a nomination

To nominate a child, send a private message to the City of Cortland Office of Community Oriented Policing Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cortlandcommunitypolicing.

Only children within the Cortland Enlarged City School District may be nominated.

Source: Officer Jesse Abbott

The pandemic is forcing some changes, Abbott said.This will likely take the form of having several small groups over a few days and maybe timing the trips to minimize contact with other shoppers.

“We just got to be a little more careful this year,” he said.

Abbott said he’s still trying to have a pizza party for each group after their shopping like last year.

Along with the children, about 15 or 16 Cortland police officers will take part, including Sgt. Tony Natoli, who took part last year, too.

“I thought it was an awesome opportunity for people in our community that didn’t necessarily have the means to get all the Christmas gifts they deserved to get something for themselves and their families,” he said.

Even with COVID-19, Natoli said he is still excited.

“With the changes everyone’s going through with COVID, I think it will be nice to let kids go be kids for a little bit and go pick out toys and get stuff they normally wouldn’t be able to,” he said.

Because of the pandemic, Abbott said he had to cancel some of the office’s fundraising events like it’s annual 5K race. Instead, Abbott applied for and was awarded a Walmart grant.

Before the pandemic, Abbott’s office had its World’s Hottest Chocolate challenge in January. And it had a stinky fish challenge virtually in the summer. It plans a labor pain simulator challenge in December.

Abbott said that while reading the nominations can be hard, especially with one of a child who was diagnosed with leukemia on Halloween, he said the event can show children’s perseverance.

“If we can just do this one little thing, that puts a smile on not just the children’s faces but the officers’ faces,” he said.