The pandemic is forcing charities across the nation to scale back or cancel fundraisers that are crucial to their success.
In the South Bay, the Shop with a Cop Silicon Valley Foundation said its name is causing even more problems. The foundation for years has brought smiles to poor families by taking them on holiday shopping sprees and providing bicycles, backpacks, and other school essentials.
Darrell Cortez, a retired San Jose police officer, runs the local chapter of the Shop with a Cop Foundation. The nonprofit has seen a 21% drop in donations this year, primarily because of COVID-19.
But Cortez thinks the perception of police officers across the nation these days is also having a big, negative effect on fundraising.
"I think that might be a factor in donations," Cortez said.
The Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose said the financial hit couldn't come at a worse time with schools learning more on outside groups and companies to help them help children.
"It is with the help of organizations like Shop With A Cop and many other of our partners that have stepped up to provide essential supplies and services that are needed to continue to support students and families in our community," said Yelitza Pena, Franklin-McKinley School District spokesperson.
Families said the partnership also allows their kids to interact one-on-one with police officers and establish trust between the two.
"It's not just the backpacks, but talking to them, engaging them, giving them stickers," parent Miriam Vllanueva said. "It definitely builds a strong relationship with our families and the officers there as volunteers."
The agency was already considering a name change to better identify with all its services.
Cortez said now might be that time to change to a name like "Badges for Education" as they try to reconnect with the community.
"We have to rebuild that trust," Cortez said. "It's very easy to lose that trust in that community based on everything that's going on in our country."
For more information, visit shopwithacopsv.com.