Captain Alfred Lewers Jr, a member of the Miami Gardens police department, shopped with a little girl from the community at the 3rd annual “Shop with a Cop” event. He and the little girl picked up many items, but to his surprise, not all of the gifts were for the little girl. With an exception of one item, all of her gifts were for her cousins.
“She said ‘I really like my cousins and this is for them’” said Captain Lewers with a smile. “They recognize that Christmas is a time for others…It’s not just kids buying toys for themselves.”
The “Shop with a Cop” is an event where members of the Miami Gardens Kiwanis Club take deserving kids shopping for the holidays. Although many cops are members of the Miami Gardens Kiwanis Club, other workers from the police department and city employees were involved as well. On December 4,2010, 124 students from the community, grades kindergarten to 8th grade, were given $75 gift cards and a companion to shop with. The shopping started at 8 am and the children were done by 11am. The kids could get anything that they wanted, but like the little girl who shopped with Captain Lewers; many kids used their gift cards to buy presents for others.
Deputy Chief of Police, Paul Miller, found the entire experience to be very rewarding. He is the president of the Miami Gardens Kiwanis Club and looks forward to the event every year. He likes when the Miami Gardens Police Department participates in events such as this because it shows the community a positive side of the police department; a side that they really prefer to show.
“We have to show the community that we are not just crime fighters. It’s about showing that the police have a sensitive and caring side” said Deputy Chief Miller.
“We don’t want people to be afraid of the police we want people to be a partner with the police.”
The Kiwanis Club of Miami Gardens is the main sponsor of the event along with Wal-Mart, located at19501 NW 27Th Ave. Kiwanis is a civic group that gives year round to people in the community and cities throughout the country have their own chapter. The Miami Gardens Kiwanis group gives away thousands of dollars each year from the $75 gift cards to scholarships for high school seniors entering college.
Paulette Weems, whose daughter encouraged her to partake in the event, last year, says that “Shop with a Cop” is a fun yet rewarding and important event that she is involved in.
“This is something I will do every year” said Weems, an Administrative Assistant at the Miami Gardens Police department. Sergeant Bob Williams also shopped with his daughter Sarah Williams, a student at Cooper City High School. They were assigned two students to shop with. Every time they finished with one group, Sergeant Williams said his daughter was eager to pick another group. They spent the day giving back. Shortly after the “Shop with a Cop” event, Sergeant Williams and his daughter helped deliver appliances to less fortunate families in living in Miami Gardens.
“For her to see that there are people less fortunate really made her see reality” Sergeant Williams said about his daughter who loves volunteering her time to worthy causes.
The appliance give away took place right after the “Shop with a Cop” event. The Miami Gardens Kiwanis Group team up with the Miami Gardens Public Works Department and Brandsmart USA to give away appliances. Many people who volunteered with “Shop with a Cop” also volunteered in the appliance give away.
Twenty two brand new appliances worth $10,000 in retail value were given to families living in Miami Gardens. People were to fill out an application withthe Miami Gardens Community Development Department. The applicants are then screened to see if they are really in need of the appliances. From there, they choose the 22 recipients.
“We have had people whose refrigerator was an Igloo cooler and to give them a new refrigerator is really a good thing” said Deputy Chief Miller.
To volunteer or contribute financially to the Miami Gardens Kiwanis Group, please call Deputy Chief Miller or Steve List at 305-474-1400.