Calgary police officers shop and talk with students in attempt to foster relationships

This holiday season, 45 students got help with their Christmas shopping from some of Calgary's police officers — all in an effort to help foster relationships between kids and officers.

The initiative, Operation Empowering Youth, offered students a $200 shopping spree

The Calgary Police Youth Foundation partnered with Cadillac Fairview to give out $200 gift cards to students deserving of a special treat. (Dave Will/CBC)

This holiday season, 45 students got help with their Christmas shopping from some of Calgary's police officers — all in an effort to foster relationships between kids and officers

The initiative, Operation Empowering Youth, is a collaboration between the Calgary Police Youth Foundation, the Calgary Police Service's District 2 office and CF Market Mall.

The hope is that the selected students, who were nominated by local schools, would be able to have an open conversation with officers about staying safe.

Const. Dean Moody, who arranged the event this year, says it's important for kids to see cops as people they can turn to, even on their worst days. 

"Working through the holidays, we do deal with some terrible things in and around the holiday season. Things don't necessarily stop, not to say crime, but tragedies that we have to deal with," he said.

"So, to get an opportunity to put some joy into families' lives for Christmas is a pretty big deal." 

Susan Cron, executive director of the Calgary Police Youth Foundation, said in a release that building these positive relationships is a top priority.

"This is a valuable opportunity for officers and youth to connect and have real conversations about issues they may be facing in their young lives," she said.

Junior high student Trinity was selected for a shopping spree and said she used the money to buy presents for family and a few for herself. (Dave Will/CBC)

The kids were each given a $200 gift card that they could spend on themselves or their families.

Trinity, a junior high student, says she headed straight to Bath & Body Works to buy some candles for her and her dad.

Students don't necessarily know why they were nominated, but Trinity thought it might be related to some of the troubles she's been facing lately. 

"I've been bullied because of my size and because of my hair, because it's pink," she said.

"So I thought maybe I was selected for this because of my strong abilities and coming to school and working for it."     

With files from Jo Horwood


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