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This is what kids put in their carts for Gainesville Police’s Shop with a Cop
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Harmony Simpson points at a toy high on the shelf Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, at the Shallowford Road Walmart as grandparents Richelle Curtis and Melton Black join officer Jim Von Essen during the Gainesville Police’s annual Shop With A Cop - photo by Scott Rogers

Officer Chase Fears and third-grader Giselle Wences were on the search for slime Thursday, Dec. 19, weaving through the other carts in the Shallowford Road Walmart. The goopy toys are popular this season.

Back in his day, Fears said he would have likely spent the money on a remote-control car.

A few aisles over, Harmony Simpson scrutinized her potential purchases. The 6-year-old looked to add accessories for her Moana doll from the eponymous movie.

“It’s been a challenge. There are just so many things that are looking so wonderful,” said Sgt. Jim von Essen. 

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Charity Payne, 4, shows Gainesville Police Officer Justin Seabolt a pack of Uno cards Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, at Walmart as the two search for Christmas items to get during the Gainesville Police’s annual Shop With A Cop. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Thursday buying frenzy was part of Gainesville Police’s annual Shop with a Cop. Each child was given $150 to spend as they please.

Gainesville code enforcement officer Michelle Castillo asked fourth-grader Jowell Garcia what the most popular game would be at Mundy Mill Academy. 

Pokemon holds the top spot, Garcia said.

Working with partners Walmart and Pilgrim’s Pride, Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said they are able to help 16 families and roughly 25 to 30 children.

“Without them, this wouldn’t be possible,” Holbrook said of the funding partners. “We work with the school system to identify the children as well as officers in the community identifying the children.”

All of the families gathered in the back around 3 p.m. Thursday to meet with the officers before heading out with their carts. 

“It’s (an) exciting time. It’s Christmas. It’s time to shop,” Chief Jay Parrish said.