Shop with a Cop gives back to the community

Mark DeLap/PC Record-Times AJ Martucci a Wyoming State Highway Patrol Officer from Torrington assisted his young friend to find just the perfect gifts for Christmas. The shopping was done at Bomgaars in Wheatland and had children from all over Platte County participate.

WHEATLAND – The Platte County Sheriff’s Department, the Wyoming State Highway Patrol, the Wheatland Police Department, the Guernsey Police Department, local EMTs and the Wheatland Fire Department all got together Dec. 22 to participate in the holiday season’s “shop-with-a-cop” program.

The shopping excursion was supposed to take place Wednesday night, but because of the storm, the event was moved to last Thursday night.

The temperatures were still brutal with the kids arriving in -16 degree temperatures. Firefighters had the trucks all warmed up that transported them to the fire barn for wrapping of the presents they shopped for and the kids were also given a hot dog supper with chips, fruit cups and Christmas cookies.

There were 91 county children chosen and assigned to their own special officer who took them up and down the aisles at Bomgaars in Wheatland. After shopping was completed, the Wheatland Fire Department gave children a ride in the firetruck to the Wheatland fire barn where the kids could have their presents wrapped by volunteer elves while they enjoyed the warm meal. 

Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper Jaime Wingard, who was the mastermind behind the shop-with-a-cop in Platte County, organized the large gathering.

“This is something we’ve really wanted to get in Platte County for the last couple of years,” Wingard said. “I’ve helped in Goshen County and the hard part was getting it organized here. Last year I decided we were just going to do it so I jumped in feet first. This year the number of kids was twice as many as last year.”

Wingard successfully coordinated the four first responder units, the store where the shopping was done and the setup of the hot dog supper. Donations were secured from the community and per usual, the community came through in a big way. 

“The kids each got $100 to shop,” Wingard said. “This will be my fifth year with this project and helped in Torrington for the first two years. This was my third year organizing it.”

“We had big food baskets over at the fire barn donated by the first lady and the hunger initiative so they all have Christmas dinner,” Wingard said. “We have ham and eggs and it all just came over from Thrifty Foods.”

As for Wingard’s personal plans for Christmas after undertaking such a huge project for others who need help was rest and enjoying the holidays with family.

“I’ll probably just relax,” Wingard said. “Both of my trees are over there at the fire barn, so I guess now I have to go home and put the tree up. I did all the decorating over there.”

Those that helped donate to make this miracle come to pass were, -Lee’s Towing -Hoskinson Ranch llc -Woolington Agency -Wheatland Volunteer Fire Department Foundation -Capstone Industries llc -Wyoming Highway Patrol Association -Bobby McClain -South Street Pharmacy -Piccadilly Play School llc -Larry Duvall -Amped Electrical Solutions llc -Lynchpin Construction -Donatos Roofing Company -State Farm Insurance Lynda Lenz -Tasty Treats -Roaming Buffalo -Soar Above -Quilt Shop -Dale Dawson -The Guernsey Police Department -2 Sisters and a Chicken -Bomgaars -Maverik -Laramie Park Rural Health Clinic. 

All together, more than $12,000 was raised for the event, 60 food boxes were delivered and 91 kids got to shop with over 20 cops and one honorary cop.

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