ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Police in St. Petersburg are trading in their badges for Santa hats.
On Tuesday, they became Santa’s little helpers, buying gifts and spreading joy to children in need.
Hours before Target was set to open, roughly 75 St. Petersburg police officers and volunteers swarmed the scene.
It’s all part of the third annual “Park, Walk and Joy” event, which is based off of Chief Anthony Holloway’s community policing model, “Park, Walk and Talk.”
The event brings joy and good cheer to needy kids in the community.
“It gives a chance for us to go out and give these kids presents so when they see a police officer, they’re not seen in a negative light, they’re seen in a very positive light,” said Chief Holloway.
The officers are volunteering their time to take on this assignment.
Thanks to generous donors, the department is providing gifts to more than 200 children. Each child will receive $75 worth of presents.
These are children of homicide victims, kids in need and children involved in the city’s police athletic leagues.
“The kids go bananas, because they’re receiving gifts they otherwise would not receive,” said Heather Robb with the Police Athletic League. “These gifts are special for the kids and the parents because it helps take the pressure off the parents to provide extra things for the kids during the holiday season.”
The officers will wrap the gifts and present them to children later this month.