OMAHA, NE – Christmas came early Tuesday for five dozen children staying at Omaha’s Open Door Mission. Omaha police officers took the kids shopping as part of the annual Santa Cop event.
“It’s not things that mom has sent with them or dad has sent with them. This is what the boys and girls want,” said James Cummings, public relations director with the Open Door Mission.
Fifty police officers volunteered their time taking 50 children shopping at two Omaha Wal-Mart stores. Each child received $100 to spend on themselves.
Officer Mick Seymour took 8 year-old Riley “L” who spends her nights at the Open Door Mission. Tuesday she browsed the aisles with dozens of other children her age picking out clothes, scarves, and toys. Riley planned to buy her first Barbie doll.
But Seymour said the trip is about more than toys for the officers and the mission.
“In situations where they come into contact with police it's not always on a positive note, and so sometimes this lets them see that we're not the bad guys,” he said.
To the children, it feels like Christmas came early thanks to the elves walking the aisles in bullet-proof vests.
Police officers handed out $5,000 in gifts. Some of that money comes from officer donations, Cummings said the rest is paid for through grants received at the Open Door Mission.