D.C. police take kids holiday shopping at Target for annual 'Heroes and Helpers' event

D.C. police take kids shopping at Target for annual "Heroes and Helpers" event, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 (ABC7 photo)

A line of Metropolitan Police cruisers were parked along 14th Street in Northwest Washington, and officers were racing down aisles inside Target in Columbia Heights, but there was no emergency.

The officers ditched their cruisers for a shopping cart as they partnered up with in-need children for the annual "Heroes & Helpers" event.

"I need like pants for track and field for me," said 10-year-old Gabrielle, as she recited her shopping list.

Gabrielle was one of about 100 kids who received some extra help shopping for holiday gifts. The officers offered up some fashion advice, and helped load up the cart with the hottest new toys. It's a special day officer Juana Diaz looks forward to.

"I love it, I love to shop so when I get to shop with the kids it's even better," said Diaz, who is part of the school safety division for the police department.

Now in its ninth year, the event is funded by the Target Corporation and the Washington D.C. Police Foundation.

"When you're the chief of police some of the things you do are not so fun, but this is one of the most fun things we get to do as police officers to spend some time with our kids here in the city,” said Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham.

Each kid was given a $100 gift card to help cross items off their wish list, and also buy items for their family members.

"My sister loves art so I guess I would get her something artsy," said Marcellus Wilson, who decided to spread the love.

Wilson rifled through racks as he searched for a gift for his mom and sister, but he was also looking to buy a winter jacket for himself.

"The shopping spree sometimes exceeds $100 and you'll watch police officers dig into their pocket and pay the remaining portion of the bill," said Joe Persichini, executive director of the Washington DC Police Foundation. “This is community policing at its best.”

The officers helped provide a happier holiday season, and they also helped build a relationship with the kids.

"It really shows we're trying to reach out to the community and be out there," said officer Jermaine Perez, who added this is his first year participating in the event.

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