WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Kids and cops got some Christmas shopping done together in Waterbury on Monday night. It’s all part of the Police Athletic League’s (PAL) effort to help families this holiday season.

Five officers teamed up with five kids. Each kid got a police escort to Target to shop one-on-one with the officer for Christmas gifts for their families…and maybe something for themselves, too. They paid for the gifts using a free gift card.

‘Shop with a Cop’ has been going on for several years, and continued through the pandemic. The idea is for kids to see police officers as the people behind the badges, and the officers to get to know the youngest in the community. And it’s working.

Officer Terence Lott of Waterbury PD, who did the event last year, said, “Christmas is a family time and it’s all about looking out for one another it’s great to teach them at a young age and have them do it, it’s fun.”

Jonathan Vargas, of Waterbury, said of his time shopping, “I think it was exciting…because my dream is to be a police officer.”

Dominique Lavallee of Waterbury PAL described the dinner the group sat down to after shopping: “A more intimate setting, they get to actually sit and talk with the officers and interact with them one-on-one versus having everybody around in their face.”

It’s also fun for the officers. Officer Lott knows what a difference this event makes, to put the focus on other people, and service in the community.

“To let the kids see us outside the law enforcement capacity that we are always in, that they see us in all the time. We are running around doing whatever we’re doing,” he explained. “Now they have time to sit with us, spend time with us, talk to us, and know us, and have some fun.”

And it was mission accomplished on Monday. The kids got all kinds of gifts to put under the tree for their families and they got to know the police officers.

‘Shop with a Cop’ is sponsored by the Reach Foundation; they supply the gift cards to Target.