More than 30 nursing students from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock brought some Christmas cheer to families in North Little Rock by volunteering at the annual “Shop with A Cop” program last month.
Tommy Norman, a North Little Rock police officer who has gained national attention for his positive community policing and outreach efforts, started the “Shop with a Cop” program, now in its 13th year, to help financially struggling students at Christmas time.
Nursing students who participated in “Shop with a Cop” include Mary Akama-Makia, Jeri Baldonado, Aaron Baxter, Lindsey Bowman, Madeline Carnahan, Brittany Dobbins, Alexis Edwards, Lisa Freeland, Charie Gasaway, Tara Gosseline, Blakelee Gray, Renita Hall, David Harris, Macey Highfill, Kimberly Hill, Ashley Holland, Elizabeth Hurtt, Angela Keaton, Sean Lindsey, Natalie Gossett, Christine McEuen, Janelle McGowan, Michael Michelsen, Ashley Moore, Monica Morrison, Jessica Nielsen, Sandi Ortega, William Porter, Nicole Purdy, Abby Sentz, Undrane Tisdale, and Nadine Whitehead.
Angela Keaton, president of Alpha Delta Nu, selected “Shop with a Cop” as the nursing student honor society’s service project because she wanted the group to expand their horizon beyond the healthcare field.
“We are very acclimated to service projects in healthcare,” said Keaton, who graduated from UA Little Rock this month. “To me, it’s about being service men and women in the community.”
Keaton said she met Norman when they both worked at Pinnacle Point Hospital and is impressed by his community outreach projects. In December, 75 families were selected for the program. Each child is given a $200 gift card, so they can buy presents for themselves. In the spirit of learning to give back, the child also buys at least one gift for a family member.
The nursing students spent the day at the Walmart on Each McCain in North Little Rock helping children shop for Christmas presents with police officers, wrapping presents, greeting family members, and taking the purchase out to vehicles.
“The experience was very rewarding,” Keaton said. “It allowed me to take a step back and be grateful for what I have and what I can provide for my kids. We are looking at underprivileged kids who wouldn’t have a lot for Christmas. These kids are receiving a positive experience that they normally wouldn’t receive. It was very fulfilling and rewarding for myself as well as the other nursing students.”
Keaton hopes to stay involved in the program in the future.
“I’m really involved in the community, so it’s probably something I will do going forward. I hope future nursing students get to engage in such a rewarding opportunity,” she said.