Originally Published: December 10, 2011 10:10 p.m.
As Radian, 8, looked for toys to share with her sisters and brothers, City of Prescott Animal Control Supervisor Shannon Gray admired the new shoes, jeans and shirts Radian chose for each of them.
"This is for my sisters," said Radian as she put a family of pony dolls in her cart. She then found a toy her brothers would like, and finally picked up a large box of art supplies they could all use.
Radian and 84 other local children in need were paired with officers from 11 state and local law enforcement agencies Saturday through the Prescott Police Department's Shop with a Cop program to buy Christmas gifts for their families at the Walmart on Gail Gardner Way in Prescott.
"It's neat to see a program I started 14 years ago as a sergeant grow to what it is today," said Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel. "We're building a connection between the officers and the children and letting them know we're here to help them."
As mascots Smokey the Bear, Eddie the Eagle and Burnie from the Sundogs roamed the store, Deputy Do-Right jumped and waved as he played an X-Box 360 game with a girl who had finished shopping.
"Seeing the smiles on their faces - that's what makes this so worthwhile," said Madelyn Smith, who has volunteered for the past three years wrapping gifts.
After the children were matched with their officer at Glassford Hill Middle School, they drove over in a caravan of patrol cars.
"I got to ride in the car and ask him questions like, 'What is this button for?'", said Ryleah, 9, who rode over with Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputy R. Lopez. "He said it was the siren, so I turned it on, and spoke on the loudspeaker."
Lopez smiled and said, "She wished everyone a Merry Christmas on the way over here."
Santa flew in on a Native Air helicopter and, after a quick picture with the kids, they all headed into the store, where Prescott High School cheerleaders sang Christmas Carols at the entrance.
"The last time they came to the store, there wasn't a dry eye in the store," said Hilda Rios, manager of Walmart, noting she and her colleagues have been looking forward to this all week.
Josiah, 7, grinned as he put a remote control car for himself in a cart piled high with gifts for his family, selected with the help of Prescott Valley Police Officer James Tobin.
Nadia, 8, smiled when she found just the right pair of fuzzy socks for her grandmother while shopping with Prescott Police Officer Zeke Chamblain.
As they were looking through the toy aisle, Officer Larry Pennington with Arizona Game and Fish asked Nick, 7, "Does she like 'The Lion King'?" Then Nick carefully chose just the right small lion toy for his younger sister.
After Austin showed off movies, music, and games to share with his family, YCSO Sgt. Hope Boldt said seeing the children's excitement has warmed her heart for the past 10 years she's taken part in Shop with a Cop.
"I love seeing the children so happy while shopping with the officers. It makes you realize how good you have it," said Suzi Young, a Walmart employee. "It's a humbling experience."
Shop with a Cop, funded solely by donations from local businesses and community members, brightens the holidays for needy children nominated by their schools and social service agencies.
"A woman asked what the officers and children were doing today, and after I told her, she handed me $100 for the program," Kabbel said. "That's the kind of Christmas spirit that keeps this going."