Janesville police officers, students pair up for Christmas gift event
JANESVILLE Officer Rick Mussey couldn't believe what he saw on his calculator.
"Eighty-four dollars! In the makeup aisle! In five minutes!" he said.
Mussey pushed a cart containing press-on fingernails, hair ties and lip-gloss. Clearly, first-grader Maddie in her blue, sequined party dress had won him over.
"She picked out one lipstick, and then she said, ‘I would really love two,'" Mussey said. "What was I going to say? Of course she should have two. Eighty-four dollars. I love it!"
Then he dashed off after Maddie as she headed for the Barbies.
Mussey and Maddie were one of 13 teams of Janesville police officers and elementary school students in the department's third-annual Shop with a Cop event. A $2,500 donation from Wal-Mart was enough for one student from each of Janesville's 12 elementary schools to go on a $208 spending spree.
An additional $208 from Chambers & Owen of Janesville made it possible for a second student from Wilson Elementary to participate, officer Chad Sullivan said. A pair of siblings got to go, instead of just one.
Participating officers are off duty and volunteer their time, Sullivan said. The children are encouraged to choose things for themselves before buying gifts for family members.
The school district selects students to participate. The requirements are that they have a good attendance record and positive attitudes, Sullivan said.
Ashley Nicole McDaniels' cart was overflowing with gifts. You could see it across the store, and her family was watching from near the cash register.
Ashley Nicole's shopping partner, officer Laurie Valley, attempted to save the day with a large, plush fish.
"Everyone cover your eyes," she said, signaling them to turn around by waving the orange clownfish from the movie "Finding Nemo."
A Wal-Mart employee did one better. She tugged on a large, plastic tarp hanging on a wire above the heads of the McDaniels family. It closed like a giant curtain, and all that could be seen or heard of the McDanielses were their feet and some giggling.
As the event wound down, students and officers refueled with sandwiches and cookies.
Officer Kevin Olin set plastic foam cups of fruit punch out of the way while his partner, Monroe Elementary fifth-grader Brianna Raiche, tried out her new pink lip-gloss and debated whether to give media interviews.
Olin had helped Raiche pick out a bike that fit her and a helmet to match. He helped while she replenished her personal stash of Justin Bieber paraphernalia.
It was the first year Olin has been able to participate in the shopping event.
"I always end up having a conflict," he said. "I canceled something else to be here tonight. I wouldn't have missed it for anything."