Many East Wake Academy students earned a day off from school uniforms Thursday, Dec. 1, by supporting an annual holiday initiative created by others who regularly wear them.
Students who donated as little as $3 over the three days from Nov. 28-30 for the Zebulon Police Department’s “Shop With a Cop” event got to take part in a dress-down day.
Some students donated $5 or $10 to the cause, while some parents donated much more. In all, they raised more than $2,500.
“They love the opportunity to not wear (uniforms),” said East Wake Academy Superintendent Stephen Gay. “Our parent organization does dress-down days for different activities throughout the year, and they do look forward to it.”
It marks the first time the school has participated in supporting Shop With a Cop. Gay said the idea sprouted out of a meeting with police on the school’s campus safety plan.
Every police rank was represented as 11 members of the force went classroom to classroom on the dress-down day, handing out ZPD wristbands, thanking the students for their support and letting them know how the money will be used to help others.
“I think we accomplished several goals,” said Zebulon Chief Tim Hayworth. “I think the children that participated feel like they were a part of giving back to someone else, it gave them an opportunity to dress down, and it gave an opportunity for the police to interact with these youth in a positive environment. It was a real positive interaction between the kids and police.”
Wants and needs
This year marks the seventh time police have held the Shop With a Cop event in the past 10 years. Donations from a variety of sources over the years have enabled Zebulon police to take children and their families shopping for some things they want, but also some things they need.
“For each child we try to buy an entire outfit of warm clothes so they’ve got warm clothing for the coldest months that are ahead,” said Zebulon Chief Tim Hayworth. “We buy for them other things they need – educational items, backpacks, paper, pencils – and we also try to buy them a fair amount of toys they might not otherwise have. The fourth thing is we purchase enough food products for the family to have a full Christmas dinner.”
The sizable donation from East Wake Academy, along with contributions from local businesses, churches and other groups, allowed the department to take 15 children and their seven families shopping at the Zebulon Walmart on Saturday, Dec. 10.
“We’re so very appreciative of the support from the school and the kids and their parents,” Hayworth said. “So many things were accomplished. It was, I think, one of the most successful public outreaches we’ve been involved with. It really was a win-win situation.”
Any unused funds will be rolled over for next year’s Shop With a Cop event, Hayworth said.