RHINELANDER (WAOW) -- Rhinelander police officers escorted a group of 3rd graders Saturday morning. The students weren't in trouble. They were shopping.
Shop With a Cop is a nationwide program. Police officers pair up with a child who might not be able to afford holiday presents and take them shopping.
Some children said they were nervous about spending the morning with a cop.
Officers said that's because when children see cops, they're typically on duty and working to fix bad situations.
Police say shopping with children allows them to see cops in a different way.
"It's nice for them to see us as people," explained Chad Brown, and officer at the Rhinelander Police Department. "They get to know we have kids too and we have families too."
Four years ago Officer Brown decided to start Shop With a Cop at the Rhinelander Police Department.
"My previous department did this and I wanted to bring it here. It's an excellent program," explained Brown.
This year twenty 3rd grade students from Rhinelander who might not have otherwise been able to get presents for the holidays were selected to go on a police escorted shopping spree.
The police and children made a stop at Burger King before they went shopping. During breakfast the children realized the cops weren't so scary after all.
After everyone finished eating, they boarded a bus and went to Walmart.
Each child got $100 to spend any way they wanted. Officers encouraged the children to buy holiday presents for family members and pick out something for themselves.
This was Sgt. Angela Mertz's third year shopping with children.
"The kids really enjoy it and I think its a great opportunity for us to get out and do some positive things," explained Mertz.
Mertz says she loves seeing the children's faces light up when they pick out something special for someone they .
The young shoppers say they can't wait to see how their family reacts when they open their presents.
The money used for the shopping spree was donated by the Rhinelander community.
Volunteers from the Rhinelander Department of Natural Resources and Fire Department also helped with the event.
1908 Grand Avenue, Wausau, WI 54403
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