Wednesday, May 25, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Why were all the police at the Big Kmart store on Tuesday morning, converged near the Little Caesar’s pizza eatery with a Hawaiian Santa, a shopper wanted to know.
The answer became clear when children started heading to the aisles in the company of police officers, armed with shopping carts and smiles.
About two dozen Kaua‘i Police Department officers, including Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry, met with Jarrett Chytka, the Big Kmart store manager, for the annual Shop With A Cop program, early Tuesday morning.
“That is so beautiful,” the shopper said. “It’s such a heartwarming thing to see.”
The Kmart stores in Hawai‘i participate in the Shop With A Cop program, Chytka said. On Kaua‘i, 50 children are selected by Rosie Carrillo and The Children’s Justice Center staff.
The children were treated to breakfast, courtesy of Little Caesar’s who extended the courtesy to the children’s parents as well as the police shoppers. And before leaving, they had their photograph taken with the Hawaiian Santa who handed them a $50 Kmart gift card.
A woman who was shopping with her son was so impressed by the sight of the uniformed officers accompanying children and teens on a shopping trip through the store, that she stopped and offered them a personal contribution.
“This was a touching moment,” said KPD Sgt. Rob Gausepohl. “She said, ‘I would do more, if I had more.’”
Chytka said Kmart is proud to be able to do this and honored to have the police department join them as partners, taking time out of their schedule to help the children.
“It’s so great to see the kids coming through with their ‘purchases,’” Chytka said. “A lot of the children buy things for someone else, whether it be another family member or friend.”
Melissa Luis, the Kmart Data Integrity Lead, said Kmart also offers the Layaway Angel program where other shoppers can help people by paying off their layaway selections.
“A lot of people who have the layaways really need the items, but just need a little bit more to be able to get them,” Chytka said. “There are Layaway Angels out there, too.”
The Layaway Angel program is a national Kmart initiative in which every Kmart store participates.
Chytka said the effort of helping others takes a lot of help and Kmart is grateful to its staff, including Luis who did a lot of the coordinating for the Shop With A Cop; Little Caesar’s and its staff for the breakfasts; Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry and the Kaua‘i Police Department for being willing to accommodate the children despite a busy workload; and Loea Kamibayashi for assembling Santa’s all-Hawaiian crew for the children.
The Big Kmart store is located at 4303 Nawiliwili Road in Lihu‘e and is open Mondays through Sundays from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Call 245-7742 for more information.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.
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