Celebrating An Annual Event That Gives Local Kids Their “Best Day Ever”

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Have you ever had a young child tell you that today was the BEST DAY EVER!? Is there anything that can brighten your own day more than that? Of all the events that take place in the Centre each year, one of the most popular is actually one that most of us don’t to take an active part in, but that does nothing to lessen the outpouring of enthusiasm that we see and hear both in the Centre and online. CopShop is hands down one of our favourite days of the year, and when Constable Marlene Hyde of the Community Relations Unit of the Winnipeg Police Service nominated Cindy Shack, Marketing Director and Melissa Marlatt, Marketing Coordinator, for a Volunteer and Citizens Appreciation Award for their work with CopShop, our whole team was excited and moved. Honestly – and here’s where we get a little cheesy – just being at CopShop is so rewarding that receiving an award really is icing on an already magnificent cake. Since each year we get lots of curious inquiries about all of the kids and cops excitedly roaming our halls, let us take this opportunity to tell you a little more about everyone’s favourite event.

Each holiday season, the Winnipeg School Division selects deserving students to be paired up with a member of the Winnipeg Police Service. The police officers arrive at schools first thing in the morning to pick up the students, who get to take a ride in the police cruiser over to St. Vital Centre.

Once here, students are each given a $200 St. Vital Centre Giftcard and a list of retailers who have special discounts just for our special visitors on this day, then they’re off with their cop buddies to go shopping. The event takes place just before Christmas, and the students are so excited to pick up gifts for their families, and maybe a special something for themselves too. Cindy often receives thank you notes from students following the event, and tells us how one student wrote, “I bought my dad a shirt and he wears it to work. I bought my brother a game and he plays it every day. I bought my sister some perfume and boy, does she smell good. This was my best day ever!” You're starting to understand why we love this event so much, right?

After shopping, students and police officers head back to the Food Hall for lunch, where pizza, fries, and Santa are waiting for them! Following lunch, they’re sent off with a backpack full of items donated by our generous retailers.

With reactions like the one above, it’s not hard to see why the tremendous amount of effort that both Cindy and Melissa put into the event each year is really a labour of love. When asked about her choice to nominate them for this award, Constable Hyde told us, “I was able to see firsthand the time and organization that both Cindy and Melissa put into planning the event. I wanted them to be recognized for their hard work, and for providing the Winnipeg Police Service with such a great opportunity.” Constable Hyde went on to describe the impact of these types of initiatives for the Service, saying, “I understand how important it is for police officers to connect with youth in a positive way. CopShop provides the members of the Winnipeg Police Service with that opportunity.”

In the 11 years since our first CopShop, approximately 600 officers have participated in the event, and let’s just say word is officially out about how rewarding and fun the event is! Hyde says, “Some officers have participated more than once. And each year, there are more than the required number of officers volunteering to participate.” Everyone here at St. Vital Centre, and especially Cindy and Melissa, are so appreciative of the officers who volunteer, as the event would not be possible without their passionate involvement. There are many others to thank as well. “It’s an honour being recognized,” Cindy says on behalf of herself and Melissa, adding, “It takes more than two individuals to create these ‘best days ever.’ I would like to thank St. Vital Centre retailers and the Winnipeg School Division for their involvement, and of course the 60-plus officers who volunteer their time every year on a project that brings joy to these wonderful children.”

It can be easy to think that there is more separating us than brings us together, but real-life, person-to-person connections like these remind us that when we do come together, magic happens. “The program… has had great impact on many children and police officers,” says Constable Hyde. “Our community is stronger when we work together.” We couldn't agree more.

Check out more photos from CopShop 2017 here.

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