COLUMBIA — Tyrice Whitaker, a fifth-grader at Paxton Keeley Elementary, zig-zagged through the aisles of Dick's Sporting Goods as Columbia Police Officers Tony Ash and Cory Dawkins tried to keep up.
"Don't run off too far," said Steve Busby, Tyrice's big brother from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
"I won't. He's got the money," said Tyrice, pointing to Ash.
Tyrice was one of five Columbia students who participated in the Columbia Police Officers Association's "Shop with a Cop." Officer Tim Thomason proposed the idea to the association's executive board in November and then contacted principals at all elementary and middle schools in the city to nominate their top student.
"(The goal is) finding kids that worked hard in school and might need help having a better Christmas," Thomason said.
The Columbia Police Department held the event three years ago, but this was the first time the association hosted it.
Although 10 students were selected, only four showed up at Going Bonkers, the first stop of the day's activities. The family center provided free playtime and pizza for the group. From there, the children rode in police cars to Dick's Sporting Goods, where an additional student appeared for their all-expenses-paid shopping spree. Dick's provided a 20 percent discount to all the children shopping with the officers.
Each student was allotted $200 in spending money, which was donated by the association and Dick's. Tyrice knew what he wanted to get — Busby brought him to the store Wednesday, so he had an idea of what he wanted to buy.
Tyrice bought himself an Adidias track jacket and matching pants, a polo and a basketball. Though he wanted to get his mother perfume, he bought her a pair of Mizzou slippers and a snow cap and socks for his sister. He got everything he wanted and managed to stay under his budget.
"I think we did good," Busby said. "I think we got everything and more."
"See what happens when you put your best work forward? It comes back to help you," Ash said to Tyrice.
"Yeah," Tyrice said with a grin across his face.