Fort Wainwright Police go shopping with local kids this holiday season

A few local families can mark some items off their Christmas check list this year with a little help from law enforcement.
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 8:25 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It has become a holiday tradition with local law enforcement. The annual “Shop With A Cop” event has been taking place all week, put together by the Volunteers in Policing.

During the holiday season, elementary school-aged kids, up to the sixth grade, are nominated by school counselors to participate in the program. Together with law Enforcement, they purchase gifts for family members and others in the community.

On Wednesday it was Fort Wainwright Police Department’s turn.

A group of 9 kids was selected for the department. Together they walked the aisles of Fred Meyer and picked out what they thought their family would like.

“I was super excited to be a part of the program,” said Staff Sargent Douglas Lanning. “Just the ability to be able to kind of give back and do that extra step is really important to me.”

Lanning is an Operations Sargent with the 28th Military Police, he said it makes the experience more fun with a good group of kids like this one.

“I think it’s super important we all have a hero in life,” said Lanning. “I was lucky enough that many of those came from law enforcement in a military background. So I hope to emulate that and do the same thing. Kind of pay it forward for those who did it for me.”

One girl went shopping for a friend at school who she thought would want a little extra “something” this Christmas.

As the kids shopped one boy, Sam, was overjoyed to pick out presents for his family. He said it meant “a lot” to pick out gifts for his dad, mom, and siblings.

Sam also mentioned some toys kids are asking for this year. “Beyblades, Legos, Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls,” he named a few..

Sam said it was “fun” to walk with the officers and get to know them. He also had a message he wanted to share with others. “Believe in yourself, you can do anything you want to,” Sam said smiling.

For law enforcement, this is a great way to interact with kids in a safe place, allowing them to be more approachable and building trust.

Lanning says anytime their officers get a chance to do something within the community and promote a beneficial view of law enforcement, they’ll take that chance.

After shopping the crew went back to the police station where they wrapped gifts, enjoyed a pizza party, and ended the night with a ride in a police cruiser home.