Credit: Courtesy NPD

Needham police are sponsoring a new holiday initiative this year: their first Shop with a Cop event.

This program, which has gained popularity in other towns, pairs police officers with children for an afternoon of shopping for gifts, paid for by the Police Working Dogs Foundation.

“Given how the economy is, we knew there were families that might be struggling, so we wanted to do something where people felt good about it,” said Officer Joe Brienze, who is running the program.

The shopping event, planned for Dec. 17, will begin in the community room at the Department of Public Safety with a pizza party and the chance to get to know the officers. The children and the officers will then go to University Place in Westwood.

Families who wish to participate can sign up through Dec. 10 and will be notified if they’ve been selected. The program is open to Needham residents and any students enrolled in Needham schools under the age of 18.

To fund the program, the department has been accepting donations through its Police Working Dogs Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funds to help with the care of police dogs. Donations are tax deductible and can be made by check or Venmo @NPWDFoundation, and must specify they are for Shop with a Cop. Brienze said the more donations they receive, the more children they will be able to help.

“Hopefully we can make the holidays brighter for families that are struggling,” said Brienze. “If guardians don’t have to worry, and we can give them a brighter Christmas, it’s the least we can do.”

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