LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With Christmas right around the corner the Angelina County Sheriff's office spent their morning with local children for the second annual 'Shop with a Cop' event.
Organizer Jana Thompson works in combination with area Child Protective Services, but said none of it would be possible without the anonymous donations from those in the area.
"The people in the community give so generously to make this happen," Thompson said. "In addition to them I have to thank the Sheriff for approving this event, and the deputies that volunteer their time."
Several children in CPS care, with their own personal officer/shopper, walked the isles of Target checking off their wish-lists.
Stephanie Davidson, a deputy that attended the event said connecting with children in the community is a way to show them who they are behind the badge.
"We have such stressful jobs, and this is a way for us to show them that we are humans too, with families and lives," Davidson said. "We don't have to be serious all the time, and we like to play with toys too!"
Thompson said each year it is her goal to bond young people in the community, and law enforcement. Especially those that have a negative view of police.
"I want them to know that these deputies are there for them, for their protection," Thompson said. "They need to grow up knowing that if they need something, they are there for them."
Thompson said several of the children in attendance may have seen officers arrest their family members, and have developed fear toward officials.
"The lay their lives on the line for each of us, and that's what some of these children don't understand due to past instances," Thompson said. "I think this gives them the chance to see that they are here to serve us, and protect us."
Deputy Mark Guerra said that being involved in an event like this is a way to not only meet and interact with children in the community, but give back to those less fortunate.
"Just to see their faces, it makes everything worth it," Guerra said. "Maybe they have had their eye on something for a while, but didn't think it would be possible to get for Christmas. It's just a cool thing to be a part of."
Everyone involved said events like this have the opportunity to change more than a child's Christmas, but their entire life.
"The kids are everything to us, and to have a chance to change that negative perspective is so encouraging," Davidson said. "I think for me it's just an honor to come in here and have a fun day!"