A battalion of officers and firefighters from the Anchorage Police and Fire departments helped 50 children tour the Midtown Fred Meyer store to pick out toys, clothing and household items during the 17th annual Shop with a Cop, Shop with a Firefighter Program on Friday.
Children from families being served by the Salvation Army's McKinnell House, Catholic Social Services's Clare House and the Abused Women's Aid In Crisis center were offered the holiday opportunity.
With $125 to spend, thanks to money donated by the employees' unions, APDEA and IAFF Local 1264, and Fred Meyer, the kids were escorted by 35 APD and 35 AFD uniformed "elves" to fill their carts.
Taylor Kilkenny, a children's advocate at AWAIC, said this was an exciting day for the kids she works with.
"An opportunity like this for the kids is amazing, because they don't always get to just go out and buy toys for themselves and have the freedom to pick out anything that they want," Kilkenny said.
Kevin Fryslie, an APD officer, said the event helps kids see police serving the public in different way that what their might see on TV or during an crisis.
"It gives the children an opportunity to see law enforcement in a nice, friendly manner," Fryslie said.
Mike Stumbaugh, president of Local 1264, said he's impressed each year on how the children decide to spend their money, often on other members of the family. "They have the opportunity to have a couple bucks in their pocket, and they're thinking of someone else," he said.