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Shop With a Cop takes Walmart by storm

The event, organized by the Nobles County Sheriff's Office, lets 14 kids go on a $250 shopping spree.

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Nobles County Sheriff's Sergeant Melissa Einck helps a local child pick out new clothes during a Shop With a Cop shopping spree at Walmart Tuesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

WORTHINGTON — On Tuesday evening, members of the Nobles County Sheriff's Office got to do something they don't usually get to do on the job — take a kid Christmas shopping.

This year marked the fifth consecutive year of the Shop with a Cop program, which pairs Nobles County Sheriff's deputies with pre-selected children. This year, there were 14 children participating, ranging in age from five to 15. Each kid receives $150 for toys, $100 for clothes, and a partner with the Sheriff's Office to help them with their shopping spree.

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Nobles County Deputy Ryan Muehe, left, looks at a WWE belt held up by Sheriff Ryan Kruger as he waits in line to help check out gifts during the Shop With a Cop event at Walmart Tuesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

As part of their funding for the event, the Nobles County Sheriff's Office received a $1,000 grant from Walmart, along with private donations. Walmart also provides a Christmas meal for families involved and a meal bag on the night of the event.

“It’s a great cause,” said store manager, Brandon Woodward. “I always give a fair amount of a donation to Shop With a Cop. It means a lot to our community.”

Deputy Kristi Liepold has organized Shop With a Cop every year since it started in 2016, and says the department gets names from schools, Nobles County Family Services, and their own cases sometimes. They look for families who have been going through a hard year or a particularly rough patch and try to invite some of the holiday spirit back into their lives.

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Nobles County sheriff's deputies help area kids pick out toys during the Shop With a Cop shopping spree at Walmart Tuesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

“I really enjoy the day that I get to go out and tell the families because they're usually pretty excited about it and they have no idea that it's coming,” said Liepold. “It’s just a good program and we get to help the kids out through this.”

One such family included Brylin, 12, and her younger sister, Mckenna, who proudly states that she is in fourth grade, likes science, microscopes and reading, and that the purchase she is most excited about is the giant, fluffy unicorn she’s going to use when she gets into pillow fights with her sister — and she said all of that in the same breath.

Between the two girls, they bought Nerf guns to arm the whole family — except their little brother, who Brylin says is too young to play with.

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Nobles County Sheriff's Deputy Manuel Dominguez helps a local child pick out new clothes during a Shop With a Cop event at Walmart Tuesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

“He’d probably just chew on (the bullets),” she said, before showing off the rest of her Christmas haul, including a blanket, two new jackets, a tablet and wireless earbuds — which earned excited clamor from several of the surrounding kids.

Brylin said she was looking forward to spending time with her family this Christmas.

“Every year, my mom, my sister and I make cookies and we watch Christmas movies,” Brylin said, adding that Elf is her favorite.

“I feel like that's a generational thing,” said her cop companion, Chief Deputy Chris Dybevick. “We would always watch "A Christmas Story" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.”

While Dybevick is a veteran of the Shop with a Cop event, having participated in each of the five years it’s been held at Worthington’s Walmart, he said Brylin is the oldest shopper he’s ever been partnered with.

“You’ve been the ultimate partner,” he tells her, while they wait in line to check out. “It’s been very nice.”

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A Walmart manager helps the Nobles County Sheriff's department check out gifts chosen during the annual Shop With a Cop holiday event Tuesday evening. Tim Middagh / The Globe

Related Topics: WALMART
Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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