Christmas came early for some as law enforcement took at-risk children shopping Sunday afternoon.
The Benton County Sheriffs Office teamed up with the Police Athletic League to take local children holiday shopping not only to get them Christmas gifts but also an experience of a positive relationship with a police officer.
“It lifts a burden off of my chest,” said Tanya Mendosa, whose children shopped with officer on Sunday.
For Mendosa, the shop with a cop program has made a big difference for her this holiday season.
“Being down on a couple of things, it helped us out a lot, it really helped out our family a lot,” Mendosa said.
Officers chaperoned the kids filling shopping carts full of their Christmas wish list items.
“They love hanging out with the cops and everything and joking around with them, and the new experiences,” Mendosa said.
Chris Spark, President of the Police Athletic League, said the heart of the program focuses on giving back to at-risk youth in Benton County, helping to build a bridge to between the two.
“Once you see the impact and the effects that take place its kind of mind-boggling,” Spark said.
Effects that Mendosa believes builds a bond and allows kids to call law enforcement their pals.
“Kids get that one on one with cops and they can see ‘hey this is not bad at all this is maybe what I want to do’,” Mendosa said.
“Breaking down those barriers, I think its priceless,” Spark said.
Presents that the officers can provide for now and gifts of mentors that will keep giving for the future.
“Its just a good environment not only for the Sheriffs Office but for the youth of Benton County,” Spark said.
“I have a daughter that already wants to be a police officer so I really know it’s making a difference,” Mendosa said.