Shop with a Cop makes Christmas brighter

The annual Shop with a Cop program might be organized by the Plymouth Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #195, but its benefits reach Bremen as well.
“There has been a misconception that this event was only for Plymouth children, so it’s been a little difficult in recent years getting Bremen to donate,” said Pattie Udstuen, volunteer and owner of Encore Consignment Shop. “We just want everyone to know it also helps Bremen children.”
Plymouth FOP #195 President Hurshel Hunter echoed that sentiment.
“A lot of people think that, because it’s Plymouth FOP, that we collect money in Bremen but don’t take any of its kids,” Hunter said. “That is not the case. The elementary school will tell you about us giving kids backpacks and taking them shopping with Shop with a Cop. We have to clear up that misconception.”
In addition to cash donations, Shop with a Cop starts with a drive to supply items for an auction which takes place live Dec. 3 on WTCA-AM 1050 and online at The auction funds then pay for a Dec. 11 trip to the Plymouth Walmart for disadvantaged area children, who shop alongside law enforcement officers and emergency services personnel.
Last year, 331 kids got to pick out gifts thanks to the program.
“Out of all the FOPs in the state, this one sends more kids shopping than any of them,” Udstuen said. “Children many times will skip past toys to get things like warm coats, boots, pillows and blankets. It is really a very emotional day.”
Children are chosen based on an application —currently being accepted at Bremen Elementary-Middle School — submitted by their parents or guardians. A committee chooses children based on need, and the process is difficult, as evidenced by the 800 applications received from Marshall County last year.
“They’d love to be able to send everyone that applies, but it’s impossible,” Udstuen said.
Donation cans — in stores until Dec. 1 — are available in Bremen at Encore Consignment Shop, Koontz Hardware, Klinge Ace Hardware, First Source Bank, Advance Auto and Woodie’s Supermarket. A number of area businesses and individuals have donated items for the action. Current items that will be up for bid include various services, gift certificates, products and autographed sports memorabilia.
For more information or to donate, call Udstuen at 574-546-3400.