Officers help underprivileged kids buy holiday gifts for loved ones

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St. Paul police officers and children in the community went shopping Saturday.

It was the 14th annual Shop with Cops event, which aims to foster positive relationships between youth and officers while making sure they have gifts to give their family.

"Establishing those relationships showing that 'Hey cops aren't so bad of people anyway, they take us out, we get gifts with them. They're not those mean, scary people who drive around in those squad cars,'" Sgt. Mike Hankee of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, told KSTP.

Officers from St. Paul, Ramsey County and Metro Transit police spent their day off shopping with about 280 underprivileged children in St. Paul, KARE 11 reports. The kids, who were nominated by their community, were given gift cards to buy presents for their loved ones.

They picked out a variety of gifts, from jewelry for their mothers to Nerf guns for their brothers, the Star Tribune notes.

After they picked out their gifts, the officers and children wrapped the presents.

Each child is typically given $50-$100, depending on the size of their family. Donations from Target's "Heroes & Helpers" program and other organizations help pay for them, Shop with Cops says. Through 2013, Target has donated more than $200,000 to agencies in about 200 communities nationwide to help kids buy gifts for their families.

Last week, the Blaine Festival group and Target hosted 48 kids from the area to shop with an officer, ABC Newspapers reports. Every child got to spend at least $100, but another $700 was set aside for someone who wanted to buy essential items for his family that they may not be able to afford otherwise – an 11-year-old boy bought a jacket for his brother, the newspaper says.

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