HARLINGEN — Arlene Martinez could not sleep the night before she was going Christmas shopping with a cop.
She was ready to hit the toy aisle to buy presents for her and her brothers to play with at home on Christmas Day.
David Sierra III went straight for the Star Wars toys yesterday and piled them into his basket. He was still excited about watching the new Star Wars movie the night before with his family.
And Joel Vargas couldn’t wait to get home to surprise his family with a Christmas tree he bought for the house while shopping with a cop.
The three were among 68 students who were selected for the third annual Shop with a Cop event that pairs students and police officers together.
The children received a $100 gift card to buy anything they wanted for Christmas, and joined the officers for lunch and an afternoon of bowling.
“This was great,” said Joel, who shopped the store with police Commander David Osborne. “It was so much fun shopping with a cop.”
The students were in every aisle checking out the Target merchandise. And they bought Christmas presents for themselves, their family and their home.
“This is my favorite event of the year,” said Harlingen Police Chief Jeffry Adickes.
Adickes said every kid he’s shopped with always buys for their family.
Officer Sergio Ruiz strolled through Target aisles with Arlene. She was looking for toys to buy, and the ones on the top shelf Sergio pulled down for her to scope out.
“This is awesome the city is doing this for the kids,” said Cristo Martinez, 29, Arlene’s father. “The city is making a great effort to help children experience Christmas regardless of their circumstances.”
Martinez said its pretty cool the police department was doing this for the kids.
“My daughter is ecstatic and very happy about today,” Martinez said. “She is very grateful and she is looking forward to sharing her gifts with her brothers.”
The Harlingen Police Department started “Shop with a Cop” in 2015 with a goal of bringing some Christmas joy to those children who are less fortunate.
The children are identified by their schools and their names are submitted to the department.
Police said the money raised for the third annual shop was received from donations, fundraising and Target.
The department’s “Shop with a Cop” keeps giving as it has doubled in student size since first pairing up with 32 children in 2015.