Police help children pick the perfect present at annual Honoring the Badge event

The toy aisles of Walmart were a little extra crowded this week from more than last minute shoppers as a group of children and police department employees did some Christmas shopping of their own.

Tuesday night, 75 children got the chance to hand-pick their Christmas presents with the help of employees from the Bradenton Police Department.

About 40 department employees and volunteers helped children as they visited Santa Claus and pick out their toys. It’s an event they look forward to year after year.

“We get to step out of the day-to-day operations and take a kid who may not have a nice Christmas and shop with them and interact with them and ultimately buy them a toy,” Capt. Brian Thiers, spokesman for the Bradenton Police Department, said.

After Santa Clause rode up to the Walmart on Cortez Road on the Bradenton Police Department SWAT rescue vehicle, there was time for a quick photo shoot with Mr. Kringle before taking off in search of toys for a whirlwind hour and a half in the store.

Officers walked up and down the aisles of Walmart with the children and their families, plucking the perfect toys from the shelves.

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Bradenton Police Department detective Christopher Capderast helps a child select Christmas presents at Walmart during the Honoring the Badge event. Bradenton Police Department

In the past, Thiers said, the event has been held at Toys ‘R’ Us, but the store is now closed.

“Walmart stepped up to help us out with the event,” Thiers.

The event was sponsored by Cox Chevrolet and coordinated by Kingdom Life Christian Church.

The church selects the families and children in need. Sponsors and donors, like Cox Chevrolet, provide the funds to ensure each child is able to take home a special toy and a memorable night.