TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Twenty students and about 30 law officers showed up at Fred Meyer Thursday morning to buy school supplies. Before long, shopping carts were filled with backpacks, notepads and pens, among other items.

This is the 11th year that law officers and other employees of the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office participated in “Shop with a Cop,” an annual event that help students get ready for the new school year.

The program is organized and funded by the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Employee Association, which holds fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for the event, said Sgt. Scott Bishop. About $200 is spent on each student. He said besides being a good host, Fred Meyer, which the sheriff’s office has partnered with for about the past three years, also donated $600. The Car Store donated the use of cars for the sheriff’s office to transport students to and from the event.

Smiles were on many faces as students partnered with various law officers and walked the aisles of school supplies. There’s a lot more variety with supplies today than what Deputy Chris Givens said he remembers as a student. Now, he said, kids can select items that better reflect their personality – such as the cool cat folder one of his students picked. The deputies also bought basic clothing needs for the children, such as socks and shoes.

“We want to give these kids every possible chance to succeed,” Bishop said, noting that some students come from families that may not be able to purchase the needed supplies.

But the event aims to do more than buy needed items: it allows kids to become more familiar with law officers, that they do more than just show up when something bad happens.

“We want kids to see that we’re people too, that we are approachable,” Givens said.

Givens said he knows from personal experience how tough it can be as a young person, especially for those who come from families that might not be able to afford much in the way of school items and clothing.

“I get that. I grew up a poor kid in LA,” he said. But being around law officers in positive settings helped him see cops in a different light, and ultimately it changed the course of his life. He’s been in Twin Falls now for about four years, and said this was his second time participating in “Shop with a Cop.”

He’s not a parent yet – several of the law officers who participate in the annual event are not – but the program is all volunteer-based and so the deputies and others who show up are there because they want to be.

When the program first started it was held at Christmastime, Bishop said, but shopping for school seemed to work out better for the sheriff’s office. It’s something the lawmen and women want to keep going and are grateful for the experiences they’ve been able to share so far with the young people.

“This is a way to help us give back” in a different way, he said. “We want to do everything we can to help them be successful in school.”