Local shopping centers have been surrounded by police officers as of late – but not for the reason some may think.
Cops around the state have been taking kids from low-income families shopping for presents to give their loved ones this holiday season – an opportunity they likely wouldn't have had otherwise.
The shopping sprees are part of annual shop with a cop events, put on by various organizations around the state and country every holiday season.
With the help of corporate sponsors that include Target, Fleet Farm, Pepsi and Walmart, the kids (who are typically nominated by community members) are given gift cards to buy the presents, and the officers take them shopping and then help them wrap the gifts, the City of Brainerd explains.
The purpose of these programs is not only to help out those in need and instill a sense of giving this holiday season, reports note, but to foster a relationship between police and the community, the Crystal Police Department, which held its first shop with a cop event Tuesday, told Twelve TV.
Here's a look at some of the fun officers and the kids had while shopping:
The Duluth Police Department brought 18 kids shopping through their sixth annual "Blue Santa Shop with a Cop" event, FOX 21 reports.
The Duluth Police Department held their annual Blue Santa Shop with a Cop Event last night at Target Store in Duluth. The department was able to shop with 18 kids and put smiles on their faces during this holiday season thanks to Target Store in Duluth, Fraternal Order of Police, and members of the Duluth Police Department. I would also like to thank Officer Brian Jones for spending countless hours coordinating and making this event possible.
Posted by Duluth Police Department on Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Eden Prairie held its first shop with a cop event this year, where kids went shopping at the Eden Prairie Center and then enjoyed pizza with officers.
Walmart in Rochester hosted more than 120 kids and 100 officers for its annual event. Each kid got $120 to spend at the store, KTTC says. It was the largest shop with a cop group they've had yet, the store wrote on Facebook.
Roseville police officers took 13 kids shopping at Target earlier this month and then had a pizza party, the city's newsletter notes.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office brought 20 students shopping – they each got a $50 gift card to spend.
Kids in Fargo, North Dakota, got $75 to spend when the went shopping with local police this month, WDAY says. After shopping, they wrapped presents and ate with the officers.
Minneapolis police, along with officers from the University of Minnesota and Metro Transit, brought kids shopping over the weekend – it was the first of two "Heroes with Helpers" events this holiday season.