For the 33rd year, officers and top brass with the Joliet Police Department went shopping with dozens of children from under-resourced communities for Christmas gifts at no cost to them or their families.
At 8 a.m. on Saturday, a crowd of children, their families and officers gathered inside Walmart, 1401 Route 59, to begin Santa’s Cops. Joliet Police Officer Bob Klancher was on a scissor lift with others to address the crowd.
“You guys ready to shop?” Klancher asked, which was met by cheers from the crowd.
“Let’s go shopping!” he said.
Joliet police Sgt. John Williams said 87 children are participating in the department’s Santa’s Cops program and each of them are given $175 to spend on items they choose at Walmart. He said if an officer goes over $175, they’ll cover the difference out of their own pocket.
“It’s very fulfilling to give back,” Williams said.
Williams said the funding for the shopping event is made possible through donations from businesses, unions, individual donations and through the sale of Santa’s Cops pins.
As part of Saturday’s event, officers had police dogs, Ryso and Rex, to greet children and their families. The children and families were also able to take photos with Santa Claus at Walmart.
Ashley Hudgens, Walmart store manager, said she was “super thankful” to Joliet police for the Santa’s Cops program.
“It’s always a huge event. It’s a lot of fun for the kids,” Hudgens said.
Klancher was on hand to film the event on the department’s Facebook page.
As with Williams, Klancher said it’s a “good feeling to give back.”
“It really makes you feel good giving them a better Christmas than they would have,” he said.