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'I Started Crying': Philadelphia Children, Families Grateful For 'Shop With A Cop' Event

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia police kicked off what it hopes will become an annual holiday event for children on Friday. The 'Shop with A Cop' event took place at the Walmart on Columbus Boulevard.

Santa and Mrs. Claus spread good cheer as children whispered their Christmas wishes.

There's one bonus in the mix.

"I don't know what I want yet, but my aunt said she wanted some chips," fifth grader Aquiaa Gordon told CBS3.

So much to choose from, and so little time.

"The thought of children not having gifts to open on Christmas Day is heartbreaking. The fact that we can bring 200+ children [makes it the] best event of the year," Eric Cushing from the Philadelphia Police Foundation said.

Friday was a special day for a number of Philadelphia police officers and children they've been paired with.

"He called me on the phone and said my two kids can do 'Shop with A Cop' this year, and I think it's a blessing," one mom said.

Walking in, some children already knew what they were getting, whether for their families or themselves. One child told Eyewitness News he was getting Hot Wheels, another getting a new pillow and blanket for her bed.

Philadelphia police has been faced with multiple challenges this year, including the soaring gun violence epidemic.

"Seeing as though where we're from, police officers don't have a good look," West Philadelphia resident Tawandaa Austin said. "So for them to call me -- it's something positive, and I started crying."

But as we count down to Christmas, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and her department has partnered with multiple organizations to make this holiday special for a number of families.

"We went to different schools and asked the teachers and counselors who needed a little bit more help," Officer Arnold Mitchell said.

It's not the first holiday where the department has given back to the community as they work to cultivate relationships. But this year the holiday event has been revamped and renamed.

With the new name, each district will choose ten children - who will each receive a Walmart gift card to buy themselves and their family members holiday gifts.

"We still have to remember there are still many children that will not have present to open," Joe Sullivan, who is with the Families Behind The Badge Children's Foundation, said. "That's why this should be the beginning of something big that should grow every year."

None of this would be possible without the community coming together with generous donations and of course officers volunteering their time.

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