SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - For some less fortunate children in Spokane and North Idaho, the season is bright thanks to the annual Holiday and Heroes event where kids have the chance to do some holiday shopping for their families with the help of first responders.
Dozens of children rode along in patrol cars heading to the area Walmart stores for a fun day of shopping.
"This is one of my favorite days of the year. It's our way of giving back to the community and it makes us feel good that we can do this," Spokane County Deputy Chris Young said.
Nine-year-old Shadrach Hall did a lot of shopping for his family.
"For my Grandma, I gave her some candles, and my Papa, I gave him a new cane and for baby brother, I gave him some turtles and my mom I gave her a necklace," he said.
"I am shopping with Deputy Young for my family and I silently hope I get something out of this," shopper Abby Wilson said.
What the children don't know is that a secret shopper is finding them a special surprise gift. This is secret shopper Lauren Pierson's eighth year volunteering.
"It just warms my heart to see," she said.
The day is a chance for children to bond with officers and firefighters.
"He is a nice officer and he is kind," Hall said of the officer he was paired with.
"He's awesome," Wilson said of Young.
"I really like him. He is nice, kind. He is funny," shopper Dustin Inzer, 12, said of the officer he was teamed up with.
Once they've bagged their gifts, the children head over to Greyhound Park in Post Falls to meet Santa Claus. Meanwhile, volunteers stay busy wrapping presents the children picked out and prepare large food baskets for the children's families.
"It's a good feeling. Whenever we are talking to people out on the streets, quite often it's when they are having their worst day and this is a chance to be with them in a significantly different circumstance. To be able to help someone have a happier Christmas is indescribable," Spokane Valley Detective Mark Melville said.
"It was a nice day. And I liked it," Hall added.
Organizers expect to help 90-100 families. The 2016 participating agencies include Coeur d'Alene Police Department, Coeur d'Alene Tribal Police, Idaho State Police, Kooetnai County Fire and Rescue, Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, Life Flight Network, Post Falls Police Department, Rathdrum Police Department, Spirit Lake Police Department, Spokane County Sheriff's Department, and Spokane Valley Police Department.
Children are nominated by teachers, school resource officers or first responders. ?
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