The countdown to Christmas 2023 draws closer to its end each day. Today, December 20, marks only five days left before kids will be running out of bed to unwrap their gifts as parents watch with smiles on their faces and cups of coffee in hand.

But not all children would wake up to find gifts beneath their Christmas tree if it wasn't for the efforts of charitable groups and citizens to provide for less fortunate families during the holidays. One such effort is the annual Laramie Police Department's 'Shop with a Cop' event.

Now in its fourth year, Laramie PDs 'Shop with a Cop' is part of a national movement taken up by police departments across the U.S. The program helps provide a Christmas for children and their families.

In Laramie, police officers will walk children selected for the program around a store (like Walmart, for example) and allow the kids to pick out toys within a specified budget. Children also received a Christmas dinner this year. The event helps provide Christmas cheer while fostering a deeper tie between LPD and the community.

"It's so great to see how everyone comes together to bring Christmas to these kids. Wal-Mart, Hilton, The First Ladies-Wyoming Hunger Initiative, and Laramie Police Department Foundation all make this happen." said Sergeant Lenhardt of LPD, "Also, Wyoming Highway Patrol, the University of Wyoming  Police Department, and Albany County Sheriffs Office all join us to take the kids to go shopping. It proves how truly great our community is."

The festivities began with officers joined hand-in-hand with kids as they strolled like champions through the University of Wyoming cheer line. Pistol Pete looked on, waving at the kids. After a few hours of shopping around Walmart yesterday, LPD and officers from the Albany County Sheriff's Office, the University of Wyoming Police Department, Wyoming Highway Patrol, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department helped fulfill the Christmas wishes of 30 Albany County School District kids. The children also met the UW Cheerleaders and Pistol Pete during the event! And, of course, Santa paid a visit as well.

This year's event saw one child unable to attend the shopping after coming down with a bug - but that didn't stop LPD from delivering Christmas joy to him. Officers swung by to drop off gifts and food for the family, capturing the moment in a heartwarming video.

'Shop with a Cop' FAQ

How does a child get signed up for 'Shop with a Cop?'

Sergeant Lenhardt: "The students are selected by the schools; more often than not, it is by the school counselors. We just try to break it up with all the elementary schools in the district."

When are kids selected for 'Shop with a Cop?'

According to Sergeant Lenhardt, students are selected for the program in early November.

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Gallery Credit: Phylicia Peterson, Townsquare Media Laramie/Cheyenne

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