Blue and red lights lit up the roads of Okeeheelee Park as sirens wailed. A motorcade of sheriffs was on the move. It’s not an emergency, just dozens of children on their way to go shopping with a cop.
“Today is the biggest event of the year,” special events manager Carol Verdigi said.
More than 85 officers including motor units, community police, special events staff and detectives attended Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office “Shop with a Cop” event on Friday, Dec. 8.
About 200 kids, ages 6 to 12, received two gift cards to spend to their liking: $125 for Walmart and $100 at Publix, for a holiday dinner.
Surprisingly, the kids had no idea what they wanted to buy for themselves. Instead, they focused on getting gifts for their family.
“It’s the season of giving,” Jaeden Sulcko said.
The 14-year-old had his nephew and niece in mind. He got the younger kids educational toys.
“All of us are from Royal Palm,” Deputy Jodi Benson said. “These are our kids from Royal Palm and we’re just giving them the opportunity to go shopping for their loved ones.”
At the park, kids got to play in a winter wonderland created of holiday inflatables including Minions, Santa and reindeer. After taking a picture with Santa, Mrs. Claus and their helper elves, the children ate pizza before hopping in police cruisers to ride to Walmart in a motorcade.
Children are picked for the event through school, their community or maybe the child knows a sheriff. A guidance counselor, psychologist or teacher may also nominate them.
“They recommend someone who really needs a sheriff officer to help them,” Verdigi said.
Carla Trivino is a Mundo Hispánico reporter working out of The Palm Beach Post. For the latest news from Mundo Hispánico click here and to see what’s going on in the county, follow me on Twitter and Instagram.