First responders team up with local restaurants to raise money for charity

CEDAR CITY – Five Cedar City restaurants have teamed up with local law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs to help raise money for disadvantaged children in the community during their annual “Tip a Cop” events.

Sergeant Jerry Womack said “Tip a Cop” began as a way to help raise the funds needed to ensure first responders could continue to help families in need at Christmas. He said all of the money raised at each of the five events goes directly to the “Shop with a Cop” program.

“We try to help right around 100 children to have a Christmas,” Womack said.

Womack said that the first “Shop with a Cop” event was in 1991, and since then the community has grown exponentially. He said at first the money for the Christmas gifts came from a variety of small fundraisers throughout the year, but as the community grew, they were no longer enough to sustain the program’s needs.

The “Tip a Cop” program tries to make sure there are enough funds every year to give each child $100 to spend on their shopping spree, Womack said. So far, “Tip a Cop” has been an incredibly successful resource for raising the bulk of the $10,000 required to achieve their goals.

The five participating restaurants this year include The Pizza Factory, Winger’s, Applebee’s, Lupita’s and Chili’s. Each restaurant has participated in previous years.

Applebee’s General Manager Andy Lawton said the fundraiser is an event that company employees look forward to every year. He said the “Tip a Cop” event was a well-attended charity every year, which brought with it a swell in business showing the community’s support of the program.

“We feel like a part of the community and it’s just something that we’re happy to do – internally with our staff as well, it’s a really fun event and it’s something that our people will remember,” Lawton said. “In our business, you just get into your daily routine, and it’s cool to have an event with a bunch of people helping us out and it’s for a good cause.”

Lawton said the “Tip a Cop” volunteers have usually had previous experience before going into law enforcement, and are actually a big help to have around. He said they work hard the whole time they are there, and have a good rapport with the customers.

Through the years, Womack said, he has noticed that some of the customers come to more than one event each season. He said it’s fun to see familiar faces returning to help give back to the community.

“Shop with a Cop” is one of the most rewarding things Womack said he gets to do every year. He said he was bit by the “Santa bug” his first year as a police officer, and has volunteered every year since. He said there was no feeling that compared to watching the selflessness of a child who has nothing, want to spend their $100 on family members so they can have Christmas – instead of using the money to buy all of their favorite toys.

“In law enforcement we deal with so much negative stuff that it’s rare and so nice to get to do something positive,” he said. “You know, to be involved in, and have these parents just thanking us in tears, and you hear these horrific stories about the circumstances they’re in so it just makes you feel good to be able to help somebody.”

The first Tip A Cop fundraiser will be Nov. 7 and they will continue until Dec. 12. More information is available on the Cedar City Police Department Facebook wall.

Event recap

  • What: Tip a Cop Fundraiser for the Shop with a Cop program
  • When/where:
    • Nov. 7 | Pizza Factory | 131 S Main St, Cedar City | 5 to 9 p.m.
    • Nov. 14 | Winger’s | 1555 Regency Rd, Cedar City | 5 to 9 p.m
    • Nov. 21 | Applebee’s | 1352 S Providence Center Dr, Cedar City | 5 to 9 p.m.
    • Dec. 5 | Lupita’s | 2052 Cross Hollow Rd, Cedar City | 4:30 to 8:30 p.m
    • Dec. 5 | Chili’s | 2052 Cross Hollow Rd, Cedar City | 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Cost: The price of dinner. All donations are voluntary.

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