This morning, Winnipeg Police Service officers gathered at St. Vital Centre to chaperone school kids while they do some Christmas shopping for their families.

Shopping with Cops is an annual event where St. Vital Centre partners with the WPS to foster positive relationships between youth and the police force. Students from the Winnipeg School Division are offered the opportunity to team up with an officer to go on a shopping spree.

The children are given $200 gift cards, donated by St. Vital Centre, to use towards their purchases.

"Christmas holidays are a celebration and a time for giving," says Constable Dirk Creighton. "It is a time of selflessness and togetherness. The Winnipeg Police Service is honoured to participate in Shopping with Cops this holiday season."

To gain the opportunity to participate in Shopping with Cops, they must demonstrate adequate academic and sports achievements, have a positive influence on peers and volunteer efforts that help to make a difference in the community. More than 60 students and officers participate in the event each year.

"We love the Shopping With Cops event. It’s all about strengthening the relationships in our communities," says Kyle Waterman, General Manager of St. Vital Centre. "Building positive relationships with law enforcement should start at an early age and we always look forward to hosting Shopping With Cops to help facilitate that. We’re excited to once again work with the WPS, who have been excellent partners year after year."

A closer look

Under the supervision of Constables Garnie McIntyre, Rachel Vertone, and Montana McKinney were Aroma and David, two sixth-grade students from Pinkham School. 

Constable McIntyre says that during the 17 years of his involvement in Shopping with Cops, it is heartwarming to hear past child participants, who are now in their 20s, say that it was one of their most special days. He is grateful to be building those relationships.

"It's building relationships with the kids and students that don't have that great of involvement with the police."

David treated this shopping spree like a mission, spending most of his money within the first hour on presents for his family and some toys for himself as well, he was especially proud of the kettle he bought for his parents for a good deal. 

He says that if he could, he would do it again because he had a lot of fun.

Aroma also found gifts that she thought her parents would like, taking the time to find gifts that she thought would be meaningful.

"It's been rewarding," says Constable McKinney. "It's a fun day. It's a bit of a deviation from what we normally do and it's nice to be around David and spend time with him, seeing him be rewarded for being a good student and going on this journey with him to purchase gifts for himself and his family. It's been a nice time."