SALISBURY – Half a dozen police vehicles lined up outside Dick’s Sporting Goods in Salisbury on Saturday, but there was no emergency.
Inside were nine students and school resource officers picking out new equipment for free. It was the first time the place hosted local officials and students for a “shop with a cop” event.
The program was coordinated by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Ryan Walker said he had reached out to the county middle and high school resource officers for some recommendations. The aim was to select a few student athletes whose families may have problems during the pandemic.
Originally there were 10 students who wanted to go shopping on Saturday, although one got out at the last minute. Kids had a spending limit, but shop was fine if they were a few dollars more. Dick’s Sporting Goods also threw in some extra balls and other items.
Dick’s Community Marketing Manager, Wade Leaphart, said the company has hosted “Shop with a Police Officer” and “Shop with a Pro” events for years. Walker said the sheriff’s office is partnering with Walmart for a “Shop with a Cop” event just before Christmas. Last year this event was virtual, but it will also take place in person again.
Vamara Jabateh, an eighth grader from West Rowan Middle School, was amazed that he could spend $ 100 on equipment. He plays soccer and football. He took some essentials like sportswear and a water bottle with him. Some of his picks were for his younger siblings.
“I didn’t expect to be so lucky to win a $ 100 gift card,” Jabateh said.
Danny Lindley, the school resources officer at West Rowan Middle, said he attends events like Saturday every year.
“You’d think a lot of kids would go there and get things for themselves, but they don’t,” Lindley said. “They think of their parents and siblings. It’s heartwarming. “
Lindley said the difference between interacting with children during shopping events and during the school day is the number of students.
“You don’t have the time to talk to one person a lot,” said Lindley, adding that Jabateh was recommended by every coach he asked.
Brooklyn Henderson, an eighth grader from Knox Middle School, said it came as a surprise to him, too. He bought boxing equipment. Henderson said he likes boxing and one of the things he likes is the ability to pay a lot of money.
Isaac Miller, Knox School Resource Officer, said he enjoys giving back to the youth and seeing children give back to their families through other shopping programs, but this program allows them to get some gear for themselves.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to see us outside of school, outside of law enforcement,” Miller said.