Greater Cincinnati's Shop With a Cop helps police, children build bridges in 40th and final year

CINCINNATI -- Jayna Bryant has a bright smile and a generous heart.

Her grandmother said she's smart, too.

They both spend Saturday with Greater Cincinnati's police officers, whose smiles and generosity matched 4-year-old Janya's: The 40th, and final, Shop With a Cop brought together police from Cincinnati, Forest Park, Woodlawn, Greenhills, Green Township, Norwood, Mount Healthy, North College Hill, Harrison and Lockland.

It's an effort to help some children in need at Christmas, and to build bridges with the communities those departments serve.

This year's event was at the Walmart in Cincinnati's Westwood neighborhood. Teachers and other adults nominate the children who get to take part. 

"Her teacher, Ms. Terry -- thank the Lord for her," Janya's grandmother, Monica Jackson said. "She picked Janya because she has perfect attendance and she's one of the smartest brightest kids in the classroom. She's always helping Ms. Terry out. She's a really bright student."

Janya picked out socks and toys, but not just for herself: a truck for her brother was in the cart, too.

Officers line up to be a part of the annual event, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said: It's a way to show cops are people, too, many of them moms and dads with families of their own.

And smiles like Janya's are a big part of the draw.

"It's just such a great thing to come out and see the smiling faces of the young people as they get to shop and pick out some things. It really makes this time of the year really special," Isaac said.

Retired officers with the Cincinnati Police Athletic Association have organized the annual event for decades. But now they're ready to retire from that effort, too. And no volunteers have stepped in to fill their place.

Jackson's grateful her granddaughter got to take part in this last Christmas shopping trip.

"The police officers are always good, even though we have our spats. But it's OK, it's OK. It's life. But I appreciate everything that they do for the kids ... because there's a lot of kids out here who don't have mothers and parents that will actually take the time out for them to have a good Christmas," Jackson said.

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