POLACCA, Ariz. - To close the 2009 year in the spirit of giving, the Hopi BIA Law Enforcement Services officers sponsored the onset of a Christmas project called "Shop with a Cop." The event took place at the Wal-Mart Shopping Center in Winslow on Dec. 22. Six students from three elementary schools on the Hopi Reservation were the first to be selected to participate. The selection was made with the assistance of the school administrators. The criterion for selection was based on the student's overall demonstration of good citizenship and academic status.
A total of $600 was received from donations by local business Cellular One of northeastern Arizona and personal donations. BIA Officer Troy Poitra, who is also a member of the Winslow American Legion, informed the project committee that the Winslow American Legion donated an additional $300 to sponsor children from the Winslow area. The Winslow Police Department, Arizona Highway Patrol and the Navajo County Sheriff's Office also participated and sponsored children from the Winslow community. The Winslow Wal-Mart management also donated $300.
Each child was given $100, of which half was spent to purchase items for themselves and the other half used to purchase Christmas gifts for their families. Upon arriving to Wal-Mart the group of officers, volunteers and children were given a warm and friendly greeting by Manager Helder Neme. Then each child was paired with an officer or volunteer for their shopping spree.
The "Shop with a Cop" project was coordinated under the leadership of BIA Special Agent Ivan Sidney Jr. Others who assisted with the project were BIA Sergeant Paul Sidney, BIA Officer Troy Poitra, BIA Officer Leenardo Gatewood, and community volunteers Lisa Lomavaya, Carey Onsae and Vanessa Medina, who are employed with the Hopi Health Care Center.
"Police officers employed at Hopi BIA Law Enforcement Services had this idea about five years ago, but unfortunately could not sponsor the activity until this year. With the success of this "Community Oriented Policing Activity," the project will become an annual event and will involve all the elementary schools throughout the Hopi Reservation next Christmas holiday," stated Ivan Sidney, Jr.
The children who were selected to partipate were: Dalton Kaye, fifth grade from First Mesa Elementary School; Katrice Puhuhefvaya, sixth grade from First Mesa Elementary School; Darion Fredericks, sixth grade from Second Mesa Day School; Janissa Lahaleon, fifth grade from Second Mesa Elementary School; Mikal Poleahla, sixth grade from Hopi Day School; and Aloma Lomayaktewa, sixth grade from Hopi Day School.
When asked what she thought about her shopping trip, Puhuhefvaya stated, "It was fun and nice. It was cool of the people who donated the money to do that for us."
The parents/guardians and family of these children should be very proud of these outstanding students for not only maintaining good grades, but also for demonstrating an outstanding attitude and great behavior in school.
Much appreciation goes to Wal-Mart, Cellular One of Northeastern Arizona, the city of Winslow and all participating law enforcement agencies.