Shop with a Cop leads to special gift
By Holly Neumann
Christmas is a little brighter this year for an Iola-Scandinavia second-grade student.
Thanks to Shop with a Cop and some extra effort by Waupaca Police Officer Nate Nelson, Drake Stilen received an unexpected gift.
On Dec. 6, Stilen and 32 other children went Christmas shopping with law enforcement officers from several agencies throughout Waupaca County.
“This program was started to show that law enforcement does care about the communities that we work for,” Waupaca County Detective Cameron Durrant said. “The best way to show this is working with the children.”
According to Durrant, not only the children, but also their families and the officers all benefit.
“Several officers over the last three years pulled out their own wallets and bought extra gifts because the children had nothing,” he said.
Each child participating in the program received $150 to spend on gifts.
“They were given $125 to spend on their family and $25 for a gift for themselves,” Durrant said.
When Nelson was paired with Stilen to go shopping, little did the officer know that the young boy would make such an impact on him.
“When he sat on Santa’s lap he did not ask for anything,” Nelson said. “In fact, when it came to spending his $25 on a gift for himself, he wanted to give it to me as a thank you for taking him shopping.”
With a little encouragement from Nelson, the quiet little boy eventually bought himself a pair of boots.
“I finally said to him, there has to be something you really want,” Nelson said. “It was then he mentioned he was a big Carolina Panthers fan.”
Nelson was so moved by Drake and his giving nature that the officer went above and beyond to make his Christmas a little brighter.
Nelson quickly contacted the Carolina Panthers to get the boy a gift.
On Thursday, Dec. 22, Nelson, along with several other police officers and Drake’s family, went to the elementary school to deliver his gift.
Drake hid under the table at first when he saw a room full of people staring at him. When he worked up enough courage to come out, Nelson handed him the presents that were wrapped with snowflake paper and a yellow bow made from crime scene tape.
His gift included autographed pictures, a backpack, a Panther hat and more. The final package had a Luke Kuechly jersey that was autographed by some of the team members.
“This is the best Christmas ever,” Drake said.
Waupaca County has been participating in the Shop with a Cop program for three years.