Philadelphia officers take over 200 children on shopping spree a part of 'Shop with a Cop' program

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A group of lucky children spent Friday with police officers at a Walmart in South Philadelphia as part of the Philadelphia Police Department's 'Shop with a Cop' program.

"Today is amazing," said officer Vanessa Washington of the 19th District.

Washington spent part of her Friday picking out toys with kids. The program provides gift cards that allow children to shop.

The officers provided help that would rival any of Santa's helpers as the kids shop for themselves and their family members.

"We were able to give 210 kids $125 each to shop," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Altovise Love-Craighead.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, "It would not have been possible without the generous donations of the Families Behind the Badge Foundation, the Philadelphia Police Foundation, and Rupi Singh of McDonald's."

The real benefit of this program is something money can't buy: fostering positive relationships between cops and kids.

"After the year they just had, this is amazing," said officer Ian Nance of the 19th District. "This is them getting out of the house. This is us getting back in touch with the community. It's a win-win for everybody."

Philadelphia police have been part of the national Shop with a Cop program for years, but this year they made an adjustment to the program.

Officers are now paired with children who live within the district they serve.

"It creates a bond. It creates a unity that we definitely need," said Betty Paasewe of West Philadelphia.

It also means the kids have a chance of seeing the officers again in their own neighborhoods. They'll no doubt have lots of memories of how those same officers helped their Christmas wishes come true.

"I believe in bridging the gap," said officer Isaiah Banks of the 23rd District. "It starts with us."

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