Members of the Crestview Police and Fire departments spent Tuesday morning shopping for Christmas gifts for kids.
CRESTVIEW — Walmart was filled Tuesday morning with Crestview first responders buying Christmas gifts for children in need.
Members of the Crestview Police and Fire Departments took part in the annual Cops for Kids shopping spree. The event is an effort to give back to the community and make a positive connection with the children and their families.
The Cops for Kids program had 300 kids registered this year. Twenty-eight of them were able to shop alongside the first responders.
"The No. 1 thing that is important to first responders is they want to help people," said Crestview Police Chief Stephen McCosker. "This is an extension of that. This is a way for them to see the instant gratification for them. They get to see the smiles and how it impacted someone’s life."
The event began with photos with Santa Claus and milk and cookies with the first responders.
During milk and cookies, the children were able to talk with the first responder they were paired with about what they wanted to get.
The younger children wanted toys, while the older kids went for the electronics, video games and clothes sections.
Each child had a $90 spending limit. The money for the event came from a donation made by Allen Turner Chevrolet.
"A lot of times we get calls and it’s in a person’s worst scenario so no one is happy to see us," McCosker said. "It’s hard to build a positive connection under those circumstances, but this is an easy way for the officers to build a positive interaction with a part of the community."
At the register, thank you’s and "Merry Christmas" along with hugs and handshakes were exchanged between the children, their parents and the first responders.
"It helps the family that’s in need and gives them a helping hand," McCosker said. "We see people pay it forward later on in life. I’ve seen these programs over the years where the children become adults and they go ahead and donate to the programs."
After the kids left, the first responders stayed to buy gifts for the other 272 registered children. The gifts bought were based on submitted applications.