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Wilmington Police Department brings holiday joy to local kids by gifting them a shopping spree

Ashley Brown
Police Officers walk with participants to go shopping at their 31st annual "Santa Cop" event

Today, the Wilmington Police Department hosted their 31st annual “Santa Cop" event, to help ensure every child has a gift to open this Christmas.

Police Officers wore a different hat as they made this holiday special for kids in need. Each officer was paired with a child to go shopping for gifts at Walmart.

Kids' faces lit up when they realized they had so many options to pick from. Each child was given $100 to spend on clothes, shoes, and even toys.

Police Corporal Anthony Merritt says this year's event is a little more special because the officers were able to shop with the kids.

“Last year we did do Santa cop but it wasn't the same way, we didn't shop in person. But it feels good to be back with the Asheville kids and seeing the smiles on their faces, he said.”

Naomi Garcia, a participant, was excited but says this experience was different.

“I felt weird because this is like something new I have never done before shopping with the police, she said.”

More than 50 kids participated in the event, all chosen by school counselors and WPD officers in New Hanover County.