KUSA –The snow-covered Walmart parking lot was cordoned off with police tape and filled with multiple Aurora Police cruisers Saturday morning. The kind of scene one might expect on the most difficult of days was not at all what it seemed.
“One of the busses is having a little delay, so the kids will be here shortly,” said Officer Machelle Williby, standing inside the cleared-out garden center of the Walmart Supercenter off Chambers Road.
Williby joined dozens of other off-duty Aurora police officers and Chief Nick Metz Saturday for the Aurora Police Association’s Shop with a Cop event.
“We take between 75 and a 100 kids shopping with a $200 gift card per kid,” Officer Williby explained.
The Aurora Police Association works all year to raise money for the event that brings Christmas to kids in need.
The district attorney’s office, Thomas Ministries and non-profits like the Boettcher Boys and Girls Club in Aurora recommend kids to participate in the event.
“Some of the kids – they don’t know what to think of us,” Officer Williby said. “Unfortunately, sometimes they meet officers in a negative capacity, and it’s nice that they can see us in that positive light today.”
Officer Williby paired up with 16-year-old Jaison Knowling whom she met Saturday morning over juice and donuts.
“I’m Machelle,” Officer Williby said, shaking Jaison’s hand. “I’m going to take you shopping today!” She added with a laugh.
Jaison, a student at Aurora Central High School, rode a bus to Walmart from the Boettcher Boys and Girls Club early Saturday morning.
Like many of the kids chosen to shop with a cop, Jaison has not had an easy childhood. The teen, who lives with his father, struggled with homelessness over the years.
“When I was homeless, it was usually either a motel or a hotel. One of those two,” Jaison said.
During those difficult times, Christmas for Jaison and his family was nothing more than another date on the calendar.
“It’s not really anything to get excited about you know,” Jaison said.
This year will be different. Jaison took hold of a shopping cart and started moving down the aisles of the massive store with Officer Williby at his side. He picked out gifts for his siblings first, grabbing a couple Nerf guns and dolls from the shelves and putting them in his cart.
“I’m glad that I got to get some things for my little brother and sisters and [it’s] just good that I get to take care of the family this year,” Jaison said.
Winter boots were the first thing Jaison picked out for himself.
“I found out the hard way this morning that these – my Air Jordans were not going to be able to hold up in the winter snow,” Jaison said pointing down to his black and white shoes.
Officer Williby helped Jaison find a pair of brown boots along with a nice, new winter jacket. Jaison also picked out some pants and Bluetooth headphones to replace the broken ones around his neck.
“The children that we have here today, probably did not have it as good as I did,” said Officer Williby. “It’s nice to know that I can be a part of giving to them and see them smile for a day.”
There were plenty of smiles Saturday morning from kids and cops.
“Today is just about the holiday season and giving and just having a good time and relaxing and being positive,” Officer Williby said.
Jaison Knowling finished the morning with a shopping cart full of Christmas gifts and a new friend in uniform.
“She’s a cool cop,” Jaison said of Officer Williby. “She’s real cool.”