Yorkville police grant Christmas wishes

By Erika Wurst For Chronicle Media

Yorkville police officers made some Christmas wishes come true for some local school children Dec. 10 when they took them shopping for gifts as part of the Shop with a Cop.  It was the first time the department held such an event. (Photos courtesy of Yorkville Police)

They say it’s better to give than it is to receive, and Yorkville police officers learned this lesson in earnest this month as the department held its first Shop with a Cop event.

Nineteen students from Yorkville Community District 115 schools were invited to shop till they dropped at the local Target, and boy did they ever.

They were all smiles as they pranced around the aisles seeking out gifts for family members and themselves.

“It was a really special time to engage with the kids,” said YPD Deputy Chief Behr Pfizenmaier. “The majority of the police department, including many of our off-duty officers, came out for the event.”

Pfizenmaier said the children, mostly elementary school students, would get so caught up in purchasing gifts for their families, they’d often forget to find a little something for themselves. This was something several officers noticed, and something that warmed the hearts of many.

“It was so special and so wonderful to see the Christmas spirit in action and to witness the generosity of these kids,” Pfizenmaier said. I honestly believe that there were just as many smiles on the officers’ faces as there were on the kids’ faces that day.”

A seasoned officer, Pfizenmaier called the event the “highlight of my career.”

For him, Shop with a Cop wasn’t just about gifts, it was about “humanizing the badge.” It was about building relationships with the community’s children in ways that aren’t often possible.

“We wanted them to see that we’re everyday people. We reside in their community. Our kids go to their schools. We want to interact with the public and build these relationships,” Pfizenmaier said.

The event was also a hit due to the partnerships of local businesses within the Yorkville community that came together to make the holidays bright for the 19 children. Pfizenmaier thanked Old Second Bank, the Yorkville Citizens Police Academy and Target for their contributions.

“We will definitely be doing this again next year,” he said. “It was a great way to reach out to the youth in the area and brighten Christmas for them.”