Smiles Abound at Shop With a Cop

Columbia Falls Police Association buys holiday gifts for local students at annual event

Nine-year-old Serenity Shyann Brummett reunited with a familiar face last week at Target in Kalispell: the Columbia Falls police officer who, as she recalled it, gave her his badge earlier this fall while he was temporarily stationed at Ruder Elementary School.

Detective Chad Sweigart of the Columbia Falls Police Department didn’t actually give Brummett his badge — it was a sticker replicating the real thing — but he did remember the buoyant fourth-grader. So at the 18th annual Shop With a Cop Event on Dec. 14, an event put on by the Columbia Falls Police Association, she was his cart-pushing buddy for the day.

Together, Sweigart and Brummett smiled and laughed as they cruised around the store with both of their families watching. They made some decisions in tandem, including a pair of fuzzy, pink-padded earmuffs that Sweigart recommended, and a puffy winter coat he helped her try on. They first crossed items off the youngster’s list of needs before making it through a good chunk of the wants, reaching the register about an hour later with a cart packed full of clothes, dolls and toys. The Zoomer Show Pony, an animatronic horse that both consumes and relieves itself of plastic food, was Brummett’s favorite pick.

“She was a blast,” Sweigart said. “She definitely has a lot of energy. (We) got her winter gear taken care of and then got her some dolls that were as big as her. That’s pretty good.”

The entire cartload, and that of 11 other local 7- to 12-year-olds in need, was paid for by the police association. This year, the association was also able to pay for a few younger siblings of student shoppers. School Resource Officer Jared Haddenham along with counselors and teachers from Columbia Falls schools select students to participate.

For more information or to donate the Columbia Falls Police Association, call (406) 892-3234.