COOS BAY — Once again this holiday season the Coquille Police Department organized its annual Shop with the Heroes program.

Saturday morning, kids in Coquille were offered the opportunity to shop alongside police officers and firefighters at the Coos Bay Walmart.

Oregon State Police trooper John Cooper shops Saturday with a group of kids during a Shop With A Hero event at Walmart in Coos Bay.

“This year we had 176 kids sign up. Of those 176 kids, 155 of them got to ride the bus to come to Walmart," said Joline DeLosSantos with the Coquille Police Department. "We accept kids age 2 through 5, but they can’t ride the buses,” 

DeLosSantos, who organizes the Shop with the Heroes program, said there were representatives from the Coquille Police Department, Coos County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Myrtle Point Police among others.

“I’m not sure how many officers exactly, I don’t want to leave anyone out, but we appreciate them all for coming out,” DeLosSantos said.

Shop with the Heroes is funded through community donations. This year the program raised $9,000 for the event, which averaged to about a $60 spending limit per child.

“We try to divide it up so that all the kids can get a good gift. Walmart did an amazing job of supporting our event this year — they gave us a community grant of $1,500," DeLosSantos said "We don’t set a hard spending limit. If it’s over a little bit, or under a little bit that’s OK. We don’t tell the kids what to spend, because there are some kids who will take a long time trying to spend every last dollar, and we do have a limited amount of time."

On top of Walmart’s grant to the program, the store also offered a free helmet to any of the kids that decided to buy a bike with their money.

Oregon State Police trooper John Cooper shops Saturday during a Shop With A Hero event at Walmart in Coos Bay.

“Being the police department we want enforce safety, so we don’t really want them to go home with a bike and no helmet. So Walmart helps us out by doing a bike and helmet combo for our guideline price that the kids get to spend,” DeLosSantos said.

DeLosSantos said her favorite part of putting the event together is getting to see the excitement of the kids.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.