By Casey Crowley

Fifteen students from Baker elementary schools went on a Christmas shopping spree for their families Friday morning at Bi-Mart thanks to the generosity of the community.

And they even had a police escort as they roamed the aisles.

The Baker City Police Department had its first Shop with a Cop event. Officers from the department, the Baker City Fire Department and the Baker County Sheriff’s Office volunteered to help the young shoppers, who were nominated by their teachers.

Each student was given $80 to buy Christmas gifts for members of their family and was randomly paired with an officer.

Karson Karolski, a fifth-grader, participated in the event with Baker City reserve officer Justin Phlaum.

Karolski brought a list of gift ideas for his family, picking a skateboard for one sister and a pair of boots for another sister, among other gifts.

The boots would have taken up the majority of his $80 budget, but Phlaum bought the footwear so Karolski could choose more gifts for his family.

Phlaum said he enjoyed participating in the event, and helping Karolski, because he likes to give back to the community.

After the shoppers had finished they traveled to the Baker City Nazarene Church to play games, eat lunch provided by the Blue Mountain Baptist Church and, of course, wrap their presents.

All the money, food and transportation for the event was donated. Bi-Mart donated $500 of the total $1,200 that was spent.

The event was organized by the Baker City Police, led by Officer Shannon Regan. She had seen the La Grande Police Department put on a Shop with a Cop event and wanted to bring the idea to Baker City.

Baker City Police Chief Dustin Newman was also familiar with the event.

Regan said Baker City Police hopes to make Shop with a Cop an annual Christmas tradition here.